Disclaimer: Naruto, his friends and the world he lives in don't belong to me but to Masashi Kishimoto. I write this story only for my pleasure and I don't make any money with it.


Chapter One Hundred Nineteen: Bad News for people in Konoha

The woman continued her lecture:

"These changes in the way of thinking about political problems occured in all the ninja countries. They didn't affect everyone, of course, and those whose thoughts and attitudes still ran on the old lines competed for the top positions with those who considered stability and reliability a more certain way to peace than increasing one's own power. In Konoha the head figures in this fight about the best policy were Sarutobi Hiruzen, the late Sandaime, and Shimura Danzou, who is now Hokage in Konoha. Both were supported by large fractions of the population, and sometimes one, sometimes the other gained the upper hand.

This is all very similar to the conflicts in other ninja countries where people had difficulties to adjust to the demands of the a new era where strength and power were not everything. In Konoha, however, instead of continuing the conflict forever, they found some kind of compromise: Sarutobi Hiruzen became Hokage, while Danzou was allowed to form his own organization, Root, according to his own ideology. Root sought peace for Konoha using the traditional ways of ninja: spying, cheating, assassinating enemies. They were even allowed to adopt the training system that at the time was set up by all the hawks in the ninja villages whenever they came to power and that's only recently been abolished by Kiri: making students fight and kill each other to see not only who was strongest but also who was most ruthless and most ready to obey even a horribly cruel order. The only thing forbidden to Root were open attacks against other countries: people had not forgotten that an attack from Danzou's side had started the Second Ninja World War."

Naruto thought of Sai and his friend. Sasuke caressed Naruto's hand: "That's what they had in mind for us too," he said.

"So while Danzou was engaged in hidden warfare the Sandaime did his best to stabilize the fragile peace between the ninja countries through treaties and acts of mutual trust. Both Danzou and Hiruzen considered their division of power and responsibility a good compromise and a great way to find out whose approach to peace was more successful in the long run.

For a while this combination worked. Danzou saw himself and his organization as the ugly, hidden part of the military organization of Konoha. They were those who were ready to do what was necessary, even though the rest of the population considered it immoral. The Sandaime represented what was above the earth, beautiful and shiny, and for this reason he considered himself more important and the better man, but he wasn't: the roots are as important to the tree's survival as the leaves. This is how Danzou saw himself.

The division of work between Danzou and the Sandaime ended with the assassination of a close relative of the Tsuchikage, which resulted what was later called the Third Ninja World War, though it was mainly a war between Iwa and Konoha. The civilian populations weren't hurt as badly as during the Second Ninja World War, but there were more casualties among the ninja themselves, and also the war ended with a clear result: Konoha was defeated.

The conflict between Danzou and the Sandaime, which until then had been kept in check by their compromise, broke out again in full force, and fully in the open. Only few people remained neutral, or undecided. There were those who supported the Sandaime, who insisted that Danzou's activities had caused the war, and those who took Danzou's side, claiming that Konoha's refusal to use the kyuubi had caused the defeat. All other ninja villages still had their bijuu at their disposal, only Konoha had refrained from creating a new jinchuuriki after the Second Ninja World War."

Naruto shivered again as he listened to the woman's cold, rational voice, and Sasuke drew him closer to his side.

"It's difficult to tell whether the lack of a jinchuuriki was the reason for Konoha's defeat," the woman continued. "After all, even though the other villages still had their jinchuuriki, they didn't use them. On the other hand, if Konoha had used its bijuu it might have won the war as the kyuubi is stronger than any other bijuu, though not stronger than all other bijuu combined. It's futile to discuss this in detail, however: Konoha lost the war, and it did so mainly because its enemies were too strong and too many. The discussion about using the kyuubi or not occured mainly because after such a defeat people look for some reason. Admitting that they were just too weak does not come easily to anyone.

So after the war Danzou claimed the title of Hokage for himself, laying the entire blame for the defeat on the Sandaime, and he managed to gain the support of a majority of the population of Konoha. Only a clever move of the Sandaime prevented him from rising to the post of Hokage already at that time: Sarutobi Hiruzen stepped down from office and suggested a young war hero, Namikaze Minato, as his successor. Minato was extremely popular at the time, and nobody voiced any objections. Even Danzou gave his consent, mostly because he considered Minato young and inexperienced when it came to politics. He considered himself able to guide Minato's actions and gain power as the man behind the throne.

It became soon clear that he had seriously underestimated the young Hokage. One of Minato's first actions was to initiate a thorough investigation of Root's activities and also of the power dynamics within the organization, and then to disband it, declaring that far from giving stability to Konoha Root's activities had undermined it, making the Sandaime's efforts to build trust and friendship between the ninja countries appear dishonest and pure hypocrisy. Enough people found this argument convincing, and Root ceased to exist as a legal organization. Danzou was removed to the shadows, as he saw his new situation, and while Minato lived he remained there, virtually without any power, watching impotently how Minato managed to reestablish Konoha's position as the most powerful of all ninja villages.

The kyuubi's attack only a few years after Minato took office was an ideal opportunity for Danzou to rise from the shadows again. As the Hokage it was Minato's duty to fight in the first line in the face of an extraordinary threat, and sacrifice himself if necessary."

Naruto had felt proud when he had heard the praise the woman gave to his father, but again the way she spoke of his death appeared to him cold and without any compassion.

"After his death Sarutobi Hiruzen resumed the office of Hokage: Danzou's power base was still too weak to give a new attempt to obtain the office of Hokage any prospect of success. For this reason he did not object to Hiruzen's new rise to power, but be made use of the occasion to announce that if people had listened to him and if a jinchuuriki had been created there would not have been an attack of the kyuubi at all.

The argument seemed to make sense, and slowly Danzou's influence grew. A major step was achieved when he had managed to draw the late Sandaime's two councillors to his side when Tsunade was made Hokage. They are of his own age and tend to see the world in military terms too, and only their loyalty to the Third Hokage had kept them from speaking out against him. They had no issues speaking out against Tsunade, and they could count on their popularity, on people's distrust against Tsunade after her long absence. Having drawn them to his side Danzou had got a foot into the door to the Hokage's tower, and he used it to seize power when Tsunade had to resign for health reasons.

So let us now have a look at the present situation. Danzou has been in power for half a year now, and since then he had directed all of Konoha's energy into its military, allegedly in order to strengthen it against attacks from other countries. He has subjected Konoha's shinobi to a regime of discipline and austerity, cancelling missions and making them focus on the village's defense. Dissent is forbidden and discouraged to a degree that exceeds by far the usual level of conformity in the ninja countries. He has created an atmosphere of tension and oppression, and it seems only a matter of time when this mix will explode.

There's a growing fear in the ninja countries that the explosion will take the form of a war against one of the other villages, probably under the pretext of being attacked by that village. Such an attack would justify Danzou's efforts to strengthen the military and silence voices within Konoha that call for a release of the strain the village is under, threatening Danzou's position, while on the other hand the necessity of standing together against an attack from outside would strengthen it.

People here in Music Town and in the ninja villages fear that Danzou might fake such an attack in order to start a war, and give advice to increase military spending in the other villages too to enable us to stand our ground when Danzou attacks. There are, however, a number of reasons why we should not choose this course of action:

First, we should avoid to give Danzou any reason to claim that he was attacked by some other country. We should make clear that we won't take up the challenge and won't engage in any arms race. Everyone including the people of Konoha shall know that we don't threaten anyone. This is the best way to avoid a war.

Second I think that the basic assumption of those who suggest increases in military spending is wrong. Danzou is not planning a war. All his talk is about strengthening Konoha's defense, and not about increasing its offensive power. We should not dismiss this as insignificant: since he has become Hokage he has not threatened any other ninja village. Our only basis for assuming that he might do so in the future is the oppression he imposes on his own people. There's no automatism, however, that leads directly from inner tensions to an attack against a foreign country. In fact it is far more likely that Danzou will react to demands of a more liberal policy with higher levels of oppression, not with starting a war, least of all in a situation where he cannot be certain of his shinobi's support. Hoping that they will follow him into a new war and unite against some common enemy is a risky affair: The illusion that Konoha was on the point of being attacked will only last for limited time, and certainly Danzou's popularity will crumble as soon as the war gets difficult. People will begin to ask questions, and they will soon realize that there never existed any threat from any other ninja village, and that it was Danzou himself who started the war.

Danzou is realistic enough to know that a military defeat of Konoha would signify the end of his political career, and he's also realistic enough to know that Konoha cannot win a war against all the other ninja countries. He started the Second Ninja World War when Konoha was at the height of its power, and still Konoha could not win it, so he knows that now a defeat is absolutely certain.

So my prediction is that he will continue to increase the oppression in Konoha and to silence any form of dissent, and make sure that he remains in power and that his successor to the position of Hokage will be one whose way of thinking resembles that of himself.

This is bad news of the people in Konoha, of course, but for the rest of the ninja world it means that there is no reason to be afraid of Konoha: the village is busy with itself and does not have the capacity to attack anyone else."

Again there was this coldness in the woman's voice. She seemed passionate enough when she spoke against engaging in some arms race, but completely indifferent to the fate of people in Konoha, Naruto thought.

"The third and most important reason why we should not engage in an arms race against some potential threat from Konoha is that this means to cede power to the military again when he have just managed to wrest it from them. Just look at those who have suggested increases in military spending: Most of them are from the ninja villages themselves, people who grew up with the idea that the world is divided into enemies and friends and whose thinking still runs mainly on these lines. They can't think of any reaction to Konoha but to answer threat with threat. We should not listen to them, and we should not abandon our own ways of thinking. We need to come up with new, non-aggressive answers to Konoha's efforts to increase their military strength, and most of all, we should not hand competence for foreign affairs to the ninja villages again but keep them in the hands of civilians."