- Christopher Moody's Flag, circa 1720
- Where is the justice of political power if it executes
the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighboring
lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills? ~ Kahlil Gibran
- Piracy is a poor type of foreign policy.
- The lawless practice of seizing ships for commercial
gain that plagued the coasts of the Americas in the late 17th century seems
to have evolved into the outright seizure of ships of state in the 21st
century. When Bartholomew Roberts, a man of some principle, captured
400 ships in four short years of piracy before being killed in battle,
he skirted the law of man, preemptively striking his prey, yet doubtful
he ever justified his actions before God.
- Blackbeard flourished for one short year toward the end
of the Golden Age of Piracy (1689-1718), seizing some 40 ships before being
killed in bloody, hand-to-hand battle at Ocracoke Inlet in 1718.
Perhaps had he been born later and served aboard the USN aircraft carrier
Abraham Lincoln, for example, Captain Edward Teach could have helped capture
an entire vassal state without so much as risking his neck (he was beheaded).
One man's act of piracy for selfish gain is another man's grand, patriotic
- "The line between officially sanctioned acts and
actual piracy was always a fine one," said Libby Klekowsli, a biologist
researching Captain Kidd's excursion into the Connecticut River .
Historical documents list well over 500 English "pirates, buccaneers,
corsairs" independently attacking "targets of opportunity."
Privateers like Morgan and Drake acted under the sanction of sovereign
states, ostensibly raiding enemy shipping under the aegis of exploration
while sharing the plunder with king or queen. That fine line between
legality and acts of piracy often got a man knighted-Sir Francis Drake,
Sir Henry Morgan-or hung from the neck, if not beheaded in battle.
- The conquest of Iraq by seizing command of the skies
and seas, surrounding her and outgunning this lumbering warship of a country
with broadsides represents the capture of a trophy ship by a buccaneer.
The treasure beneath the sands of Iraq -black gold in the form of billions
of barrels of oil--exceeds in value all the gold from all the fleets of
Spanish galleons that ever sailed. Seen from the perspective of a 17th
century buccaneer, the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld foreign policy of plundering
countries on the high seas makes good economic sense. All that is
lacking is legality and a suitable pirate banner.
- The glyphic devices of Christopher Moody's banner (pictured
above), while designed in the early 18th century, perhaps best symbolizes
occupied Iraq . The winged hourglass symbolizes the fleeting notion
of liberty, or, if you prefer, the insistent, never-ending search for WMD.
The upraised arm symbolizes tyranny both past, present and to come, while
the grinning skull symbolizes victims, both American and Iraqi, of depleted
radiation poison or perhaps only the mocking of our moral ambiguity.
- The black flag, death's head, jolly Roger
or skull and crossbones still flies prominently-although hardly visibly-from
the ship of American foreign policy as she plows through uncharted waters.
Truthfully, the days of swashbuckling pirates never really died in North
America but became more secretive, sinister and-some say-far more dangerous.
The flag of convenience hoisted by our captains of industry, banking, law,
military and media (or propaganda) resembles not Old Glory but the death's
head pictured to the left (322). While you and I sing garbled stanzas to
the Stars and Stripes, the most powerful men in America salute the death's
head banner of a secret society at Yale University in Connecticut.
- "Those on the inside know it as The Order.
Others have known it for more than 150 years as Chapter 322," said
Antony C. Sutton, author of the book, America 's Secret Establishment,
a revealing look inside the Skull and Bones Society. "It was
also once known as 'The Brotherhood of Death'," Sutton added. "The
power of the place remains unmistakable . . . . To rival institutions and
academic reformers there was something irritating and disquieting about
old Yale College ."
- Disquieting? Consider our last three presidents,
whether Republican or Democrat, attended Yale and, not coincidentally,
the "terror expert" governing Iraq , Paul Bremer III, is another
Yale insider. Former CIA Director James Woolsey, who lauded the approach
of "World War IV," John Bolton and Lewis Libby, all Yale. All
- The elite and powerful, some say altogether
sinister, cult of the Skull and Bones Society-think of the masked revelers
in the movie "Eyes Wide Shut"--traces its origins back to Germany
. From there the philosophy of an all-powerful state, sharing many
of the same tenets and rituals of the Third Reich, took root with the WASPs
of New England, many of whom could trace their roots, ironically, to buccaneer
brethren. Not surprisingly, the Nazis adopted a parallel vision,
decorating the military badges (shown at left) of their SS special forces
with a death's head lifted, as was that of Yale's Skull and Bones Society,
from the existing flags and symbols of piracy, murder and mayhem.
- While many Bonesmen of Yale downplay the symbolism and
fascist pageantry that occurs in the windowless meeting hall--known as
"The Tomb"--as nothing more than youthful merriment and harmless
initiation rites, some critics see a darker side, suggesting the "double
cross" of the black flag signifies a truer ambition, similar to the
more explicit motto of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad-"By
way of deceit, thou shalt make war."
- Examples of subverted, occupied, undermined or double-crossed
nations lend weight to those who contend a US conspiracy for unlimited
global power is well underway. "Between 1945 and now, the US has never
stopped being at war with the world. For 58 years, there has never
been a single year in which it has not bombed and occupied another country,
and in most years, it has attacked two or more countries at the same time,"
said Professor of English literature, Uzma Khan. "I haven't
even touched upon America 's non-military, CIA-backed interference in the
governance of sovereign countries all over the world," she added.
- Doug Henwood, author of Spooks In Blue, said, "There
is something profoundly undemocratic about the culture . . . . The CIA's
Yale is the Yale of secret societies, like the infamous Skull and Bones,
whose alumni fill the Agency." By contrast to the eastern elites playing
at pirate, playing at spy, helming a ship with a madman's eye, let us pause
to consider a buccaneer who actually lived and died by a code, by principles
yet foreign to our jingoist's mode of saluting the death's head, but usually
attired in black tie while lesser worlds explode.
- Article 1-"Every man has a vote in affairs of moments;
has equal title to the fresh provisions, or strong liquors at any time
seized, and may use them at pleasure, unless a scarcity makes it necessary,
for the good of all, to vote a retrenchment," wrote Bartholomew Roberts
in his Articles. Notice the almost Jeffersonian phrases at beginning and
end. Recall that these Articles--eleven in all--were written long
before the US Constitution, and since then have not been improved upon
but rather eroded by those who would sail us into a war in the name of
God, while play-acting at pirate.
- Will we Americans simply be remembered by the world as
just another band of pirates? Bigger but no better? Toward the end of the
Golden Age of Pirates, the repercussions of resentment by land dwellers
eventually overtook most of these buccaneers; those not killed in battle
were captured and hung. Bartholomew Roberts, killed in 1722. Blackbeard
1718. Captain Kidd, hung by the neck and then allowed to rot, in 1701.
The difference between pirates and those who play at being pirates is that
the swashbuckler risked his own neck. Antony Sutton said of the modern
pretender: "These prominent men are really immature juveniles at heart.
The horrible reality is that these little boys have been dominant in world
affairs. No wonder we have wars and violence."
- Nowadays we may find ourselves charmed
by the legends of buccaneers while overlooking the reality, and yet some
legends offer a colorful story and a moral lesson as well. While the banner
of Calico Jack Rackham (left) resembles the flag of the world champion
NFL Buccaneers of Tampa Bay (home of CentCom) , Calico Jack became known
as much for his crew as for his exploits. Legendary lady pirate,
Ann Bonny, a quick-triggered cutthroat attired in trousers, fought alongside
Jack and may have been his mistress. When their ship was attacked
in 1720, Rackham and many of his men fled to the hold while Ann Bonny and
another woman, Mary Read, remained on deck and resisted their captors.
Pregnant, the two women avoided the gallows, and Bonny witnessed the execution
of Calico Jack. "I'm sorry to see you here, Jack," she
said, "but if you'd have fought like a man you needn't hang like a
- And perhaps if we conducted ourselves like men, instead
of spoiled, rich kids playing at pirate, the world wouldn't snarl at us