Friday, October 17, 2008


Today is my birthday, and in the Russian tradition of birthdays I would like to give a gift to my friends on my birthday. Usually the gift consists of cooking a nice meal for your closest friends and providing them with copious amounts of alcohol but since you are all in virtual space my gift must be one that you may enjoy without physical presence. So I want to give the gift of words: the words that have changed meaning dramatically in my short lifetime. More importantly than the words is our collective human memory, our programming has been altered and we should be aware of this.

When I was a kid the people who attacked an invading army were called the "resistance". Le Resistance still conjures up romantic pictures of the French, Czech, Polish, and Dutch undergrounds that made the Nazi occupation of their countries so bloody and difficult.

"resistance" is no longer in vogue to describe those who fight back, it has been quietly replaced with "insurgent".

"Insurgent" of course is the toned down, more academic and objective sounding version of "terrorist".

Now when I was a kid "terrorists" were people that blew stuff up (like the Officer's Club I used to eat in at Rhein-Main Air Force Base) because they wanted to fight a superior force but lacked conventional weaponry. Since I escaped that attack with my young hide intact I have the luxury of writing about it and it is important to note even this mid-70's use of the word "terrorist" was the beginning of a change in the Americanized English language.

What was the status of U.S. military forces in Germany in the 70's? We always believed we were holding back the juggernaut of the Red Army from overwhelming Western Europe but as this is the official story I find it unlikely that it remotely approximates the truth.

Were we in fact an occupying military force, albeit of the kindest gentlest kind? Does the open hostility shown to us by German children reflect the conversations of their parents and grandparents at home. Did the German people believe that the U.S. was there protecting them from the Soviet Union or was our presence regarded as a hold over from the defeat of the Third Reich 31 years earlier (1976)?

In any case the U.S. military was never referred to in my presence as "an occupying force" back then and obviously mainstream U.S. media today does not use this term to refer to U.S. military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Cuba, Germany, The Philippines or anywhere else.

So what would be a fair label for U.S. troops stationed on foreign soil? Are we to believe that the citizens of the countries where U.S. soldiers are stationed, if given a choice, would vote in referenda to maintain their presence ? If the answer is no than is the presence of those forces an occupation? Well, of course it is, but that is not what it is called. In fact it is even labeled so that it appears the military presence is a benefit to the "host" country.

"Occupation" has been replaced with "assistance"

For example "Nazi Germany’s occupation of Denmark began with Operation Weserübung 9 April 1940, and lasted..." Wikipedia

compare this quote to the one below

U.S. Occupation Assistance: Iraq, Germany and Japan Compared


This report provides aggregate data on U.S. assistance to Iraq and compares it
with U.S. assistance to Germany and Japan during the seven years following World
War II. U.S. aid allocations (all grant assistance ) for Iraq appropriated from 2003
to 2006 total $28.9 billion. About $17.6 billion (62%) went for economic and
political reconstruction assistance....

Now note the interesting way that the word "occupation" in the title of the document morphs into "assistance" in the text.

Perhaps this is why it is controversial to say "the U.S. occupation of Iraq" because the empty space, the neutral ground of our intellect has been programmed to associate the word "occupy" with something negative and "assistance" with something positive. We can't be "occupying" anything, Nazi, Soviet and Iraqi armies occupied Europe, Afghanistan and Kuwait respectively, but American forces are "assisting" Cuba, Korea, Germany, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. etc.

This is a point of contention with the conservative members of my family who are always quick to say "you can't compare what we are doing in Iraq to what the Soviets did in Afghanistan". Can't I? Why does the perspective of the occupier even matter? If you are in my country kicking down my door in the middle of the night and terrifying my children, parents, girlfriend, whoever, you better expect a visit from me and my buddies later. And don't bitch about it, don't call them "insurgents" and "terrorists".

They are the resistance

Le Resistance

And it is their duty and their right to resist us.

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