Occupation and Terrorism

In 1945, while at war with Japan, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing over 100,000 innocent civilians and injuring hundreds of thousands more.  The Japanese surrendered. But what if things had turned out differently?  What if the US had actually lost the war?  What if the Japanese had invaded America and begun a long military occupation of the American mainland?

We can imagine that the Japanese at first let much of life in America go on as it had before, but with their military commanders reviewing most significant decisions.  Americans had to get Japanese permits and pay fees for building anything, buying a house, land, or car, getting a job, or traveling from one administrative area to another.  The Japanese imposed their own military law and courts.  They didn’t hide their disdain for the inferior, “round-eye” Americans they had conquered, and seemed to enjoy demonstrating their superiority with daily of unnecessary control and humiliation.  They even claimed that they had the moral right to rule America since their descendents, the American Indians, had lived there for thousands of years before the white man invaded their land and exterminated them.  The Japanese didn’t want the Americans to get desperate and resist their occupation, so they reassured them that the occupation would end as soon as a proper negotiated settlement could be reached.  However, as the years dragged on, the only thing that the Japanese settled were more and more of there own people in America, taking land and homes arbitrarily without compensation; grabbing what they wanted and leaving the Americans to beg for their basic rights.  Americans became increasingly impoverished and angry.  A generation of Americans grew up only knowing life under occupation.  Any American who had the money or the opportunity emigrated to a free country.

Some Americans formed resistance groups.  They harassed the Japanese soldiers and installations, but with little effect as they had only light arms against the Japanese’ tanks, artillery, and planes.  The Japanese responded with tightened controls, identity checks, roadblocks, house-to-house searches, arrests, and even torture.  Americans were increasingly harassed, humiliated, and beaten by Japanese soldiers and settlers.  Any American suspected of terrorism or of supporting terrorism was arrested and his home destroyed.  Maybe the Americans would have been smarter to just cooperate with the occupation and adjust to it!  The Japanese and their allies certainly thought so.  However, too many chose to resist.  With every act of resistance, the Japanese postponed the talks of ending the occupation.  After many years, the Japanese mad a “generous offer” to withdraw from parts of America, keeping California and splitting the rest of the country into blocks separated by Japanese settlements, roads, and crossing.  The Japanese also insisted on retaining control of America’s resources and international borders.  Of course the Americans had to refuse.

As their lives became increasingly unbearable and hope disappeared, some  Americans began to attack any Japanese civilians they could reach, even when it meant certain death.  This, of course, just caused the Japanese to react with increasingly violent reprisals.  A vicious cycle of attacks and reprisals commenced and the situation steadily worsened over 35 years.  Eventually, so many Americans supported the resistance that the Japanese began to view and treat them all as terrorists.  Americans became so enraged that they felt exhilarated whenever any Japanese were killed by freedom fighters.  Americans had become killers.

One group of American scientists, refugees in Canada, secretly finished the research they had begun during the war.  They produced two working atomic bombs.  After much debate, they decided that the best way to end the occupation was to secretly transport the bombs to Japan and explode them in cities where they would kill the most Japanese.  They would then claim that they had more bombs readied and demand a full Japanese withdrawal from America.  Two groups of Americans succeeded in smuggling the bombs into Japan and positioning them in two cities.  Not wanting to rely on a timer, each bomb was manually detonated by a volunteer.  Their plan worked and the Japanese withdrew immediately.  The bomb makers and the martyrs became the greatest American heroes.

In either scenario, Americans murdered over 100,000 innocent civilians.  I ask you, in which case was the killing of 100,000 “innocent” civilians easier to justify?  1) To bring a brief overseas war to a quicker end and thereby save the lives of American soldiers?  2) Or to free America itself from a grueling 35-year racist military occupation that traumatized everyone, ruined its civil society and infrastructure, and maimed the lives of two generations of Americans?  It’s not a very difficult question, is it?

If you chose 2), then you support massive violence against civilians, including suicide bombings, for the purpose of ending a military occupation. Congratulations, you are a terrorist.  Meet the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank and Gaza.  If you chose 1), as Americans once did, not only are  you a terrorist, but you condone violence against civilians in circumstances far, far less grave than those suffered by the Palestinians.

The occupation is the problem.  Occupation is a form of violence much worse than any war between armies!