The place was a house in T. The time was AD…. The terrorists were A.V. and E. H. The occupiers were informed about the hiding place of the terrorists by a collaborator. The occupiers attacked the terrorists in the house. The terrorists fought back. Two of the attacking occupiers were killed by the terrorists. The occupiers killed A.V., but E.H. survived seriously wounded. Then the occupiers left T. The inhabitants of T. made “a fatal misjudgment”, they thought that the occupiers got “those they wanted” and left. However, four days later the occupiers came back.
They arrested 66 men of T. and shoved them in a shed where they were subjected to the “psychological torture” of imminent execution. A few hours later they were driven to the top of a mound so that they could witness the blowing up of their houses, one after the other, according to the decision of the occupiers. Then they drove the women, the children, and the old people in a concentration camp taking care as “punishment” to separate the children from their mothers. Of the 66 men 31 never saw their home place again. Most of them died in concentration camps. Some were executed. The women, the children, and the old people returned to their destroyed homes three years later.
- The place was the fishing village of Telavag, in Norway. (Now, it is Falluja, in Iraq.)
- The year was AD 1942. (Now, it is AD 2004)
- The terrorists were the Resistance fighters Arne Vaerum and Emil Hvaal. (Now, it is any Iraqi Resistance fighter.)
- The occupiers were the Nazis (Now, they are the American soldiers.)
- The explosives used by the Nazis were dynamite (Now, the US military use helicopter ordnance.)
- The concentration camps were: Grini, Sachsenhausen, etc. (Now, they are: Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, etc.)
(Note: For the information on the Telavag events we are indebted to Roland Loeffler for his article “Telavag – an Almost Forgotten Tragedy” in the “Neue Zuercher Zeitung” of May 5, 2004.)
Any occupation of a people by an invader is characterized by three significant aspects:
1. the emergence of collaborators among the occupied,
2. the amateurism of the Resistance fighters versus the “professionalism” of the occupiers, and
3. the occupied people’s painful dilemma of the need for Resistance versus the brutal reaction of the occupier to the actions of the Resistance.
The collaborator through history has been one of the most loathsome of humans. The spectrum of collaborators is quite wide extending from the “elite” Quisling down to the lowly policeman. The value of the collaborators to the occupier is inestimable. It is not an exaggeration to say that an occupation cannot exist without the help of the collaborators. This explains why the Iraqis gradually shifted their attacks mostly against the Iraqi collaborators instead of mostly against the American occupiers.
It is rather inexplicable why some people choose to become collaborators knowing that an occupation ultimately ends and that the occupied people finally punish the collaborators. Yet, the only period that the collaborators can be really punished is during the occupation itself. History teaches that even if the occupation ends the collaborators will be protected by the “Great Powers”. The powers which are the “patrons” of any occupier no matter if momentarily they appear to be against a particular occupier.
During the 20th century the US has been the “patron saint” of the most obnoxious of collaborators worldwide. The case of the collaborators with the Nazis all over Europe is an illuminating example.
Some of these collaborators have been pushed by the US to the top offices in their respective countries. The Vietnam experience with collaborators is another characteristic example of the application of the US collaborators “rule”. It is not improbable that the Iraqi collaborators expect to have the “protection” of the Americans even if the Americans end their occupation of Iraq. Also, it is not improbable that this time the US will not be able to apply its collaborators “rules” in Iraq. No one knows how George the Second’s adventure in Iraq will end.
The Nazi collaborators of Telavag in Norway have the blood of 31 of their fellow countrymen on their hands. I do not know if they paid for this blood. The collaborators in Iraq seem to have a more difficult time. Which means the Americans will have a more difficult time.
The fundamental criterion for the distinction between the “amateur” Resistance fighters against an occupier and the professional soldiers of the occupier is morality. The motive of the Resistance fighters is morally quite concrete: they fight for freedom. The motive of the professional soldiers of the occupier is ultimately remuneration.
In fact, if stripped of the predominant patriotic hypocrisy, what is a professional soldier but a mercenary killer. (Of course the upper layers of the officer corps have the additional “bonus” of participation in the weapons producing industry). Even if the soldiers of the occupier are ordinary citizens forced into the army through the draft, in their majority, as occupiers, they participate in immoral acts, meanwhile striving to justify them as patriotic acts to protect the “Fatherland”.
That the vanguard of the Iraqi Resistance consists of religious people, though based on historical factors, is a negative characteristic of this Resistance. However, it is legitimate as long as it originates with the Iraqis themselves. It is a matter for a later fight by the Iraqis for real freedom and social justice in a secular society. In contrast to the Iraqi case the vanguard of the anti-Nazi Resistance in Europe was the Left. A development that forced the US to dismantle through bloody violence the European Left after WWII. Our estimate is that if the religious-based Resistance in Iraq installs a theocratic regime, the US will support that regime as long as it has covert control of the top clerics.
[Note: What a theocratic regime is can be accurately defined by the following news item: The Iranian dissident academic Hashem Aghajari was condemned to death "for saying Muslims should not blindly follow their clerical leaders like ' monkeys'". The Iranian clerics under pressure from PR considerations commuted the sentence to 5 years in prison. (International Herald Tribune, July 21, 2004). ]
The “amateur” (but morally superior) Resistance fighters usually give a really hard time to the (rather immoral) professional soldiers of occupiers. An optimistic observation for humanity.
Even in places of martyrdom as the Norwegian village of Telavag, among some people there is a residual feeling that the calamity would not have happened if the Resistance fighters had not “provoked” the Nazi occupiers. The same holds for the inhabitants of Falluja in Iraq. The claim is that if the Americans are not attacked, then there will be no helicopters killing women and children.
So, is there a moral dilemma? To resist or to survive? The answer could be: to resist and to survive. However, the dilemma no matter how painful is rather academic. What is REAL is the barbarity of the occupiers that force innocent humans in the domain of such a dilemma.