Monday, June 23, 2003

John Dower: Is Japan a model for current US occupation?
'As we enter a dramatically altered world, both internationally and domestically, it is only natural that we look to history for bearings, points of comparison, glimmerings of the familiar. In these predictable uses of the past, "Japan" has emerged as a small trope for both horror and hope. Thus, September 11 became our generation's Pearl Harbor (headline writers across America turned, almost instinctively, to "Day of Infamy!"). Our new global enemies have been declared an "axis of evil" (with North Korea presumably replacing the Japan of the 1930s). And now we have the sanguine scenario of the democratization of "occupied Japan" after World War II as a model for post-hostilities Iraq.

'None of these analogies withstand serious scrutiny, and looking back at occupied Japan should really remind us both how fundamentally different Iraq is from the Japan of 1945 and also how far the United States itself has departed from the ideals of a half-century ago. Liberalism, internationalism, serious commitment to human rights, a vision of economic democratization in which the state is assigned an important role -- these were watchwords of the Americans who formulated initial policy for occupied Japan. In the Bush administration, they are objects of derision.'

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