Let me show you why the plunder of Cyprus is probably one of the most
brilliant acts of wholesale theft the world has ever known, why the
stolen treasure may be thousands of times greater than has been
suggested, and why the names of the victims, and the full value of the
loot, will remain a mystery forever.
In the days of wooden ships and iron men, colonial empires pillaged
entire populations. At sea, independent traders, merchantmen, privateers
and pirates (broadly, those who operated without paying tribute to to
one crown or another) were masters at avoiding the powerful warships of
unfriendly nations. Of great importance in this effort was knowing which
flag to fly, when, in order to avoid capture.