FOR months the world had seen the invasion approaching. Like the culmination of a long terminal illness, the inevitable conclusion was awaited. When it did come, any resistance was token and defeat was surprisingly rapid. Eager to be viewed in a humane light, the victorious occupiers were careful to display their best manners to the civilians of the occupied country. Yet the urge to topple statues of the repugnant past leaders of that place was too great to be resisted.
The occupiers moved into the now deserted hotels of the city and commenced the business of government. Their proclaimed desire was to ‘support’ a national ‘government’ made up of the citizenry. But the populace quickly divided into those who would appease the occupiers and those who would ultimately resist. So quickly did this segregation occur, that the focus of the newly established ‘government’ turned to the persecution of the latter group. That greed and envy had motivated the invasion became increasingly apparent as the lack of planning for the post-invasion environment manifested itself. Curfews and military patrols did little to re-establish the basic comforts of life for the population, and their resentment and anger smouldered.
The educated began to commit their emotions to writing, and some managed to find an outlet for their expression. The fire of anger began to catch as rumours of torture of citizens by the occupying forces began to become more commonplace. The occupying forces countered with a campaign of propaganda accompanied by a reassuring insistence that God was their ally in their mission.
Amongst the citizenry, a feeling of alienation took hold. No longer did they feel a sense of belonging in this place. Overt acts of rebellion, carried out initially by a small minority, were driven by such an absence of belonging. Initially those acts occurred in the capital, but quickly spread to the outer cities of the occupied parts of the country.
Whilst acts of sabotage were committed, those rebelling against the occupation learned that the most effective strategy at their disposal was the murder of members of the occupying forces. The campaign of rebellion was quick to have an effect, and the occupying forces were equally rapid in denying the obvious nature of that effectiveness. The rebels were labelled by the occupiers with terms of enmity including “criminals”, “bandits” and “terrorists”. The occupiers began a campaign of reprisals against the rebels, who quickly learned the greater value in martyrdom. A rebel culture took hold. There was honour in dying to resist the occupation.
Of course, we know now that the occupation ended more than six decades ago. The rebels were later recognised as true patriots and were decorated accordingly. They became known as Freedom Fighters. The occupiers were defeated and many were charged with war crimes and executed. God, it seems, was not with them at all.
The lies which underpinned the motivation for the invasion, and which constituted the propaganda, are now instantly recognised as such by any secondary school student.
So little is different than in 1940, and yet so much has changed.
If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)