After the bloody battles of the World War II, the US took over total control of the conquered nations, namely Germany and Japan. Less than 2 decades after the war, both countries were truly democratic, and moreover, both were formidable economic forces that looked like they would rival their occupier, the USA.
How the USA handled the defeated nations that killed hundreds of thousands of American, and caused the loss of tens of millions of civilian lives everywhere they ventured, is an example that, unfortunately, modern day America could not bother to follow in Iraq or Afghanistan.
A previous post of mine presented and article by Brian O'Malley in the Washington Post that showed how George Washington instructed his military leaders on handling occupied people. The article I am presenting below is a more recent one from the time of WWII.
Recently, the National Archives declassified a secret memo that had been prepared for FDR’s Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, titled “Observations on Post Hostilities Policy Toward Japan".
Peter F. Schaefer, in an article for Foreign Policy magazine writes
"Had U.S. decision makers read it before invading Iraq, the present mess might well have been different."The declassified paper outlines suggestions for handling post war Japan. The author of FP article simply includes the text of the original document, replacing the word "Japan" with "Iraq", "Allied Military Government" with "COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY", etc.
The result sadly revealing: every recommendation for post-hostilities Japan would have contributed significantly to the success of Americans in Iraq, and to the wellfare of the Iraqi people. Unfortunately, the arrogance of the neocon hawks that ran the war as f it were a private enterprise did not have much tolerance for opinions different from their's. Their approach, frequently referred to as hubris was along the line of: we have bigger guns, therefore we can shoot first and think about it later.
I will present the text of the declassified document here. Please take the time to check the original article.
1. To be realistic, post hostilities policy toward
JapanIRAQ must be based upon:a. Recognition of the probable reaction of the American public over a period of time. A policy which does not win the continuing support of the American public is doomed to failure.
b. Recognition of the lessons taught by history with respect to relations between the conqueror and conquered.
2. The most important points to be noted in connection with a and b above would appear to be the following:
a. The American public will unquestionably become restive under a prolonged occupation of
JapanIRAQ by American Forces. It will not wish to assume the burdens of governing JapanIRAQ over an extended period. Demands for withdrawal are likely to begin within 6 months after the surrender of JapanIRAQ and thereafter to build up increasing political pressure to that end.
b. Even under the most just and equitable administration, resentment against a conquering nation exercising direct political and military control over a vanquished nation inevitably tends to increase over a period of time. Difficulties arise which present the ruling nation with the alternative of either extending and tightening control or withdrawing without accomplishing the desired objectives.3. The formulation of our policies toward post hostilities
c. The conquering nation cannot impose its form of government, ideals, or way of life upon a conquered nation except by permanent military occupation and immigration.
JapanIRAQ, therefore, requires the highest degree of statesmanship. We must look forward as well as backward. We must:
a. Avoid to the maximum extent possible policies dictated by current war hysteria which subsequently the American public will repudiate or which will involve commitments which the American public will be unwilling to fulfill.
b. attempt to accomplish the maximum degree of progress towards the regeneration of
JapanIRAQ in the minimum amount of time. Our degree of success in accomplishing this objective will depend upon the intelligence with which we approach the problem or the relations between the victor and the vanquished.
4. It would appear desirable in the light of the above:
a. To retain the civil administration.
b. To set up a supreme authority in the country which would function and issue its directives through the regularly constituted government.
c. To give every encouragement to the
JapaneseIRAQIS to undertake under their own leadership the development of democratic institutions and the elimination of the spirit of military conquest.
5. The following arguments are advanced in support of such a program as compared with the establishment of a
Allied Military GovernmentCOALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY in place of the EmperorCIVIL AUTHORITY:
Allied Military GovernmentTHE COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY is bound to be bungling, undiplomatic, and inefficient. We must give full recognition to the fact that we do not have sufficient personnel with the proper vision, training and ability to carry out the task effectively.
b. The continuation of
the ImperialIRAQI rule with the Allied Control CommissionCOALITION remaining in the background should reduce the possibilities of friction and disturbance to the minimum and permit the earliest withdrawal of Allied OccupationCOALITION Forces, and of the Allied Military Council. The Allied Military GovernmentCOALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY, particularly with the quality of personnel available, would almost inevitably create situations that would require a more protracted military occupation than the American public will accept.
The author believes that we, as the only superpower remaining, are bound to venture in similar wars in the future, for one reason or the other. He has this advice to conclude his article:
"We will never know how Iraq might have turned out had the Bush team made all the right moves from day one. But one thing is certain: Before the next war, those in charge had better listen to the wisdom of their predecessors"