Wednesday, November 25, 2009


military occupations generate so much hatred, resentment, and resistance
Costly occupations are an activity you hope your adversaries undertake, especially in areas of little intrinsic strategic value.
Britain's occupation of Iraq after World War I triggered fierce opposition, and British forces in Mandate Palestine eventually faced armed resistance from both Arab and Zionist groups. French rule in Algeria, Syria, Lebanon, and Indochina spawned several violent resistance movements, and Russia has fought Chechen insurgents in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
The Shiite population of southern Lebanon initially welcomed Israel's invasion in 1982, but the IDF behaved badly and stayed too long, which led directly to the formation of Hezbollah.
sraelis were also surprised by the first intifida in 1987, having mistakenly assumed that their occupation of the West Bank was benevolent and that the Palestinians there would be content to be governed by the IDF forever.

Military occupation generates resistance because it is humiliating, disruptive, arbitrary and sometimes terrifying to its objects, even when the occupying power is acting from more-or-less benevolent motives.
so you choke down your anger and just put up with it. Now imagine that this is occurring after you've waited for hours at some internal checkpoint, that none of the occupiers speak your language, and that it is like this every single day. And occasionally the occupying power kills innocent people by mistake, engages in other forms of indiscriminate force, and does so with scant regard for local customs and sensibilities
It is sometimes said that Americans don't understand this phenomenon because the United States has never been conquered and occupied. But this simply isn't true. After the Civil War, a "foreign army" occupied the former Confederacy and imposed a new political order that most white southerners found abhorrent.

clipped from:
The first Reconstruction Act of 1867 put most southern states under formal military control, supervised the writing of new state constitutions, and sought to enfranchise and empower former slaves. It also attempted to rebuild the south economically, but the reconstruction effort was undermined by corruption and poor administration. Sound familiar? However laudable the aims may have been, the results were precisely what one would expect. Northern occupation eventually triggered violent resistance by the Ku Klux Klan, White League, Red Shirts, and other insurgent groups, which helped thwart Reconstruction and paved the way for the Jim Crow system that lasted until the second half of the 20th century.
Nor should we forget how long a profound sense of anger and resentment lasted.
one hundred years after the end of the Civil War, he was still being taught songs that expressed a lingering hatred of what the Yankees had done

This is what defeat in war and prolonged occupation does to a society: it generates hatred and resentment that can last a century or more. Hatred of the "party of Lincoln" kept the South solidly Democratic for decades, and its political character remains distinctly different even today, nearly 150 years after the civil war ended.
And don't forget that unlike our current presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, the occupying forces of the North spoke the same language and had been part of the same country prior to the war; in some cases, there were even strong family connections on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Yet defeat in war and military occupation were an enduring source of division for many years thereafter.
The bottom line is that you don't need to be a sociologist, political scientist, or a student of colonialism or foreign cultures to understand why military occupation is such a poisonous activity and why it usually fails.

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