War Then and Now
"Writing in the Winter 2007-08 issue of the Objective Standard, John David Lewis offers an illuminating analysis of another U.S. occupation, this one thoroughly successful, in Japan (1945-1952). President Bush, of course, frequently refers to the democratization of Japan as a model for the democratization of Iraq (and the wider Islamic Middle East). But, as Mr. Lewis' must-read essay makes historically clear, the president has been comparing apples and oranges.
It isn't just that the total defeat and utter devastation of Japan nullifies the comparison with Iraq (which it does). There is something else. There is the completely different U.S. approach to Japan's animating, warlike state religion of Shintoism, which, not incidentally, bears striking similarities to the animating, warlike state religion of Islam.
In 1945, our government was of one mind regarding state Shintoism. Mr. Lewis quotes Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, who wrote: 'Shintoism, insofar as it is a religion of individual Japanese, is not to be interfered with. Shintoism, however, insofar as it is directed by the Japanese government, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with... [T]here will be no place for Shintoism in the schools. Shintoism as a state religion — National Shinto, that is — will go... Our policy on this goes beyond Shinto... The dissemination of Japanese militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed.'"