Tuesday :: Jun 6, 2006

What Would John Wayne Do?


by pessimist

When a war concludes, there is a clear indicator of whether the occupation of one country by another is accepted by the population of the occupied nation - and that is how those who cooperate with the occupiers are treated by their co-nationalists.

When Hitler had conquered Europe, groups like the Maquis rose up to attack his forces any way they could. The Resistance suffered fearful losses and yet never gave up the fight. They continued to fight up to the day Germany surrendered.

Contrast this with the almost complete lack of resistance on the part of the German and Japanese populations once Allied forces occupied their nations.

One of my Good Orange County (CA) Republican coworkers had been a child in Germany during the war. I have written about him before - he's the one who told me about how Germans knew the war was going badly when each daily 'great victory' trumpeted by Reich officials was that much closer to Berlin.

He came to America once he became of age, only to be drafted into the American Army and stationed in - wait for it - GERMANY! To make matters even more interesting, he was stationed close enough to his home town that he could visit there on a regular basis.

Think about this for a moment. How would you feel if some kid you watched grow up left the country, only to return wearing the uniform of the nation which holds you captive after losing a war against them? Suppose - as John Walker Lindh found out the hard way - that wan't acceptible to you? Wouldn't you want to hurt 'the traitor' in some way?

This is exactly the indication of whether an occupation is successful - or not.

My friend was not ostracized for belonging to the American Army, nor was he harmed by his former neighbors in any way. He was accepted as an alumni of the town he grew up in, and up until he died, maintained relationships with his former hometown neighbors.

It wouldn't have gone like this if he were a current-day Iraqi.

This fact has nothing to do with their religion or their culture. It has to do with the abusive actions of the American Occupation toward the Iraqis themselves.

A great example of a successful occupation was that of Japan after WWII. In Embracing Defeat - Japan in the Wake of World War II (by John W. Dower) are presented a great many examples of why Japan should have risen up in the manner of the Iraqis today: massive unemployment, extreme malnutrition causing widespread death by starvation, large numbers of idle (and drunken) soldiers trained to fight with no future and a wounded nationalistic pride, a lost identity as a people, and the imposition of a foreign way of life.

It wasn't just the Emperor's edict to obey that kept the peace for proconsul Douglas MacArthur, although that played a large role. What helped the most was the fact that - however slowly it developed - what was imposed upon the Japanese people came to be accepted by them as an improvement over what they had before.

It was no different in Germany. There were few if any 'reprisals' for cooperating with the victorious Allied authorities.

But today's occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq are incredibly dangerous to those who cooperate. To explain why will take a return to the history of the Maquis.

There was no way that the Maquis could have done all that they did to the Third Reich if they didn't have the support of the occupied populations - even if the costs were still incredibly high. Without the help of the people to feed and shelter them, to warn them when necessary, to gather information and supplies for them, the Maquis would have eventually been worn down to the point where they could no longer function.

It would have been no different in the former Axis nations just a few years later, especially in Japan, where bushido was so inured into the population that the entire nation may well have gone to the beaches with nothing more than sharpened sticks to resist Operation Coronet had the Emperor not stepped in - finally - to stop the slaughter.

Allied Occupation authorities were very worried about reprisals against those Japanese who cooperated being conducted by the Japanese version of the Red State Bu$hCo Republican, feeling that if such reprisals began, they might well have to evacuate the country long before nation-building in the American mold could be completed. There would be no way to govern successfully.

But these reprisals didn't happen, even though the Japanese in particular were subjected to extremely harsh conditions - conditions which were motivated in part by war-inspired racist hatred and feelings of revenge for Pearl Harbor.

Maybe this acceptance of occupation on the part of the German and Japanese peoples was predicated on the thought that they could have it worse - they could be occupied by the Russians alone. It may well have been this thought that allowed the German and Japanese peoples to accept their multinational occupations without allowing nationalism to rise again and inspire the desire to reclaim their sovereignty.

The cause for an unsuccessful Iraqi occupation began the day Iraqis knew that it was their oil that Bu$hCo was after, and that they could all just die and get out of the way of the Halliburton truck convoys. No effort was exerted by the Occupation to restore the deliberately (and unnecessarily) destroyed power and water facilities. Hospitals and schools remained (and may still, in many places) damaged and unusable, and with few jobs, the people were left with little to use to improve things for themselves.

Food supplies remain low to this day, over three years after Baghdad fell - the symbolic end of the 'war'. Power is sporatic, and the water is tained. Health care? Don't ask.

Had the needs of the people been met early by the Occupation - putting Iraqis to work restoring the power and water systems, for example - the Occupation may well have earned the loyalty their ancestors earned from the German and Japanese populations. There would be no 'insurgency'.

But since if you aren't WASP American (or even just WASP), who cares for you? Get out of the way of 'our' oil, you raghead haji!

Would you take a directive to 'Get out of the way, Yankee infidel dog!' quietly?

No. You wouldn't. You be mad, and you'd find that gun you stashed when they came to collect them, and you find a way to hurt Osama's Al Qaeda occupiers - even if you died in the attempt. Your personal honor would demand that you take action.

To do nothing would be beneath contemptible.

What Would John Wayne Do?

pessimist :: 3:39 AM :: Comments (19) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!