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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7376/a-history-of-occupations/

A History of Occupations

November 1, 2007 by

Based upon my observations of Korea, here is a politically incorrect guide to Northeast Asia:

Japan = America
South Korea = Canada
North Korea = Cuba (specifically, Gitmo)
China = Mexico

At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, Imperial Japan occupied both the Korean peninsula and parts of China.

And while the Japanese were arguably more repressive and violent, the parallel with hawkish American foreign policies and conquest is more or less a carbon copy due to the fact that the US military has also invaded and temporarily occupied its neighbors.

- attacking Canada (and looting Toronto in the War of 1812)
- invading Mexico (and occupying Mexico City)
- assaulting Cuba (Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders marauding the countryside)
- permanently occupying Puerto Rico

The Cuban theater took place during the infamous Spanish-American war, which was promoted by the propaganda of William Randolph Hearst (“Remember the Maine!“).

Incidentally, the US military continues to occupy parts of the Japanese empire, with permanent bases in South Korea and even Japan itself (lest we forget about Vietnam).

See also: The Ruses for War: American Interventionism Since World War II and A History of Folly


Keith November 1, 2007 at 8:04 am

“Permanently occupying Puerto Rico.”

And the Spanish were of course legitimate occupiers. I love books that compare the actions of the past to today’s “standards”.

Fundamentalist November 1, 2007 at 8:12 am

If you ignore all the differences, they are carbon copies.

Jerry Kohn November 1, 2007 at 8:38 am

Of course there are differences from one era to the next, but the essentials of empire are always the same. The conqueror always tries to justify their conquest by suggesting that it is for the good of the conquered.

DickF November 1, 2007 at 8:42 am

I know you are looking at Asian countries but the US would be more like the United Kingdom or Rome. Yes, we have occupied other countries but like the attitudes of many of the countries occupied by Rome the people preferred Rome to their own rulers. The people of many countries prefer the US occupation to the government their occupation replaced.

Consider that both the French and English used Canada to attack the US.

Mexico was ruled by both France and Spain with an iron hand and during the Mexican/American was by a despotic dictator.

Again as Keith notes Cuba was occupied by Spain and was anything but free. And comparing Gitmo to North Korea is like comparing the jail in Mayberry to the Soviet gulags.

Finally Mexico with all its problems is a democratic republic while China is run by a committee of the chosen. China would be more accurately compared to Plato’s republic. Mexico would be closer to India.

DickF November 1, 2007 at 8:43 am

Mexico could possibly be better compared to Thailand.

TokyoTom November 1, 2007 at 9:14 am

It’s so hard to make meaningful comparisons between these various countries, that it’s hard see that even starting makes sense.

Japan’s situation, for example, had very little parallels with the US. They had four small islands with no oil and China next door, we had a continent and no significant challenges in our hemisphere.

Welcome to Asia, though, and keep trying to put your head around it.

Anthony November 1, 2007 at 9:29 am

‘China would be more accurately compared to Plato’s republic’

I don’t think its rulers are the kind of people Plato would have in mind. :P

Tim Swanson November 1, 2007 at 9:55 am

I think the above comment from Jerry Kohn sums up this issue the best.

Furthermore, I was not implying or whitewashing the aggression of previous imperial machinations (e.g., Spain, France, England). Rather, I was trying to help paint a contemporary picture for everyone.

I would argue that the term “empire” is a taboo word by most of the political establishment, despite evidence of the contrary (bases in over 100+ countries, bombed 50+ countries after WWII). And, in order to create the American empire, force and aggression must be used to subjugate/neutralize a populace.

There really is no such thing as a kindler, gentler empire.

As far as North Korea goes, the place is for all intents and purposes: nonexistent.

I’ve been asked to go on a number of “sightseeing” tours up there, but the problem is two-fold. First, you can only go where they let you (you are accompanied at all times) and can only take pictures of approved scenery. And tours only last for a week. Second, nearly all of the money you spend on the trip goes directly into the pockets of Kim.

This issue really deserves numerous articles, but the general idea is: residents of North Korea are prisoners that cannot leave (or are shot attempting to), do not have any civil liberties, nor have other freedoms (e.g., association, contract). They are allowed to live solely to fulfill the needs of the state.

As far as the comparison of Mexico/China, if you notice I was trying to relate Northeast Asia to Westerners. Thailand is a bit too far south to make the cut.

And for the record, South Korea is a great place to live. I’ve enjoyed my stay here immensely.

jp November 1, 2007 at 10:07 am


Don’t forget the Philippines in 1899. Nearly 16,000 Philippino soldiers died and hundreds of thousands of civilians.

“The people of many countries prefer the US occupation to the government their occupation replaced.”

Sounds like the neocon justification for the invasion of Iraq, which has been an all out failure.

DickF November 1, 2007 at 4:30 pm


No police action can take place without force and aggression. The only reason for the state to exist it to ensure that contracts are enforced, but this will require force and aggression because one party will dispute the finding of the police and will be forced to comply. If you totally remove force and aggression you have anarchy.

Josh November 1, 2007 at 5:25 pm

Let’s be honest… Toronto had it coming.

Vanmind November 1, 2007 at 10:51 pm

Although I’m not one of them, many Canadians feel that Toronto still has it coming.

Also, we should note, in fairness, that the British/Canadians ended up marching across America and razing DC. I don’t think South Korea’s going to do anything similar to Japan any time soon.

Jack Maturin November 2, 2007 at 8:08 am

> If you totally remove force and aggression you have anarchy.

Being an English Austrian and a follower of Johnny Rotten since 1977, I can only say one thing: Amen, brother. Bring it on! :-)

Anarcho-Capitalism: An Annotated Bibliography

DickF November 2, 2007 at 5:21 pm


Anarchy and Anarcho-Capitalism are two different things. The belief in a peaceful anarchy is a mythological utopian view of reality. There are evil men out there. True Anarcho-Capitalism requires the enforcement of contracts. If there is no system to enforce contracts then society will devolve into a law of the jungle survival of the fittest. The moment a criminal attempts to take your property and you call on your neighbor for help you have created government.

But as the US Founding Fathers understood and as brilliantly expounded by Garet Garrett, govenment must be subject to the control of a constitution. Our responsibility as citizens is to ensure that government does not violate the constitution and only honestly enforces contracts.

Peter November 3, 2007 at 6:39 am

The moment a criminal attempts to take your property and you call on your neighbor for help you have created government.

You have a very odd definition of “government”

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