Saturday, February 23, 2008

War Then and Now

Diana West: (Hat Tip: Nicholas Provenzo )

"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.'"



Blogger Ducky's Here said...

Shintoism is kin to Buddhism. You're going to have to move in pretty mysterious ways to link Buddhism and Islam, Jason but give it a try.

For the record, it was bushido which was eliminated in Japanese culture, not Shinto.

Our criticisms of bushido could hardly have been stronger than say Kurosawa's in "Seven Samurai". Although you can contrast it to Suzuki's general anti-Americanism and affinity to destruction.

Japan was lucky. They were able to take a good look at their culture and make changes during reconstruction.

Meanwhile,we think a few aphorisms about "freedom and democracy" constitutes a culture. Let's clean our own house.

2/23/08, 2:13 PM  
Blogger Jeffrey Perren said...

Mr. Here is making a common error by equating State Shinto with Shinto. The two, albeit with many common roots, were very different in practice. The former is very like Islam and the parallels are not hard to draw. Read Dr. Lewis' essay and find out why.

Apart from the philosophical similarities, historically it was clear to MacArthur and others long before the war was over what gave rise to Japan's behavior. Bushido doesn't go nearly far enough to explain it.

And, by the way, Japan didn't "make changes" they were required to make changes. There was ample resistance, overcome only by the insistence of MacArthur and other officials who would brook no disagreement. Any who did were fired at once.

For the record, Mr. Here is mistaken on plain historical fact, apart from any philosophical leanings.

But on to the positives.

Dr. Lewis' 55-page essay is indeed grand. He provides well researched data and numerous sources and direct quotes. The epilogue discusses in detail the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagaksaki. He has well reasoned and well-supported views on why it was the right thing to do.

The essay is based on material from Prof. Lewis' book in progress, which promises to be excellent.

I encourage everyone to read his other essays on this subject, as well as his work on Islamic Totalitarianism.

2/23/08, 3:47 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Shinto always makes me scratch my head and say "huh?"

Here's a religion that professes that there is no "afterlife" yet people pray to dead ancestors.

Not exactly a culture that will ever invent something requiring logic. Imagine where they'd be if we never showed them how to build television sets with tab A into slot B diagrams.

2/24/08, 11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Separation of church and state. It's what keeps every democratic society from immediately devolving into a totalitarian tyranny. Otherwise the first and second estates conspire to control and usurp the liberties and riches of the third.

2/25/08, 9:25 AM  

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