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Occupation Forces

by Jeff Thomas | August 18, 2014

When I was growing up in Berlin, after the war (World War II), we lived in the American sector and the American soldiers were everywhere—on the streets, in the cafes. No one wanted them there, but whenever we made disparaging remarks, our own authorities tell us we must not do this. They tell us the Americans can do what they like and we just have to accept it. So, we stop using the words, “Yankee” and “American.” They are the occupying forces, just like the Romans were at one time, so, amongst ourselves, we refer to them as “the Romans.” So, we talk freely in the cafes about the “Romans” and the American soldiers don’t know that we mean them.
The snippet above was from taken from a conversation I had recently in a café with Klaus, a German who is now in his late sixties. He had a long career as a pilot for the German air force and had been stationed in many countries. In spite of his own career as an “occupier,” he never got over the resentment he had for the occupation of his homeland by American troops. (Berlin was occupied from 1945 to 1994.)
The US is unique in the world with regard to occupation. It has been estimated that the US has over 325,000 military personnel in over 1,000 overseas military bases in more than 150 countries, but statistics are widely conflicting.
Generally, the American troops arrive to deal with some sort of conflict (either invited or uninvited), but unlike most other armies, they tend to remain for a long time beyond the stated “need.”
There are those who praise this policy, stating that the US “keeps the world safe for democracy;” however, the US is known (at least to us outsiders) as a country that typically routs elected governments, installs corrupt and ineffectual puppet leaders, and seeks to control the occupied country as a satellite state.
There are three major downsides to this policy:
1. Occupation Forces Are Always Resented
Most Americans, during the Cold War, perceived the Russian forces in Berlin to be hated by the Berliners, but assumed that Berliners were grateful to have American occupiers to “keep them safe.” The truth, as Klaus states, was that all occupiers were hated, not just the Russians. Long after the war was over and it was time for Berlin to return to normal, the Russians and Americans maintained a standoff in Berlin that did not end for another forty-nine years. Only in 1994 did Germans “get their city back.”
Not surprisingly, many Germans, even today, feel that neither the Russians nor the Americans can be trusted, as they are seen as “empire builders” who play out their ambitions in foreign lands. Although today, there is a fair bit of cooperation between the governments of the US and Germany, the German people themselves have, even recently, expressed their distrust by asking that the Bundesbank demand the return of their $141 billion in gold from the US Federal Reserve, and have additionally railed against NSA spies in Germany.
2. Occupation Is Extremely Costly
Two thousand years ago, the Romans created an empire by training its own people as troops, then invading other countries, stripping them of their wealth. They then left troops behind in each country as occupiers to maintain Roman control. Unfortunately, after the initial pillaging, there was little ongoing wealth to be taken, and the occupations became expensive liabilities. Eventually, the once-wealthy Rome sank into debt and relied more and more on mercenary troops—troops that had no real loyalties to Rome and would eventually turn on Rome, when the money ran out.
The US is now in a similar state. There is no more military draft in the US, and the majority of soldiers occupying the 150 countries are mercenaries (or, in today’s nomenclature, “defense contractors”). As the US is technically bankrupt, it is only a question of time before the cheques stop coming. As in Rome, it can be expected that the mercenaries will drop their “loyalty” with little or no warning at some point.
3. A Government that Believes in Occupation as a Policy is a Danger to its Citizens
The US Government clearly believes in the concept of occupation, as it is actually increasing the number of countries where it has troops in occupation.
In addition, in the last decade, the US has been dramatically ramping up its preparedness for war at home. Not since World War II has the US spent so much money building tanks, buying bullets, and training troops to get ready for a major conflict.
However, this time, it is not for a war overseas, but at home. The armaments are being deployed to localised law enforcement departments and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is charged solely with domestic enforcement. Similarly, the training of police officers and other authorities has changed dramatically from the traditional “Protect and Serve” policy to one of riot control and combatting “domestic terrorism.”
Billions are being spent on this effort, and of the three downsides to occupation, this is the one that should concern American citizens most greatly, as, for the first time since 1865, the American continent itself is planned to be the occupied territory.
Indeed, under the National Defense Authorization Act, passed in 2011, the US was declared a “battlefield,” a legal term that allows a government to suspend habeas corpus and to authorise any authorities to act toward the people of the country as “enemy combatants,” should they suspect for any reason that this might be so.
In discussing post-war Berlin with Klaus, I asked him when he left his home city. He said, “As soon as I was old enough—I joined the service and got out. This is no way to live.”
As stated above, Klaus himself later became an air force pilot and an “occupier” of sorts. Still, he is correct in his view that to be the population that is occupied—that is, to be under the control of militaristic rule—is no way to live.
It would appear that, in the US, the clock is ticking. “Occupation” may be an inevitability, and we are now seeing the quiet before the storm—the time when each individual may assess his options.
One thing is certain: when the DHS troops are deployed, they will not be looked upon as the friendly neighbourhood cops of past generations. They will be seen as the Romans… the occupying forces.