The United States and its allies were almost completely unprepared for the enormous occupation responsibilities they faced in the Far East beginning in 1945. The author reviews Chinese, American, and British occupation decisions in immediate postwar China, Korea, and Southeast Asia and the role of the forces of recently defeated Japan. Allied occupiers came into the area for the nonpolitical task of disarming and removing the Japanese, but they quickly found themselves in the middle of insurgencies or civil wars, because the basic political future of these countries remained undecided. By 1948 all the states of the former Japanese empire were involved in conflicts. The ultimate fate of the occupied nations seemed to depend more on internal forces than on the techniques or plans of the occupiers. Consequently, the lessons of this period for the recent Iraq occupation are ambiguous at best, and they suggest that nation-building with guns will have no more certain outcome.