How Bush got his history wrong

Winona, Missouri

In regard to the Oct. 28 movie review “Fair Game,” it might interest some readers to know that the flawed reasoning behind U.S. President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was partly influenced by professor John Dower’s historical study of Japan’s defeat in 1945 and the seven-year U.S. occupation that followed.

The title of Dower’s book is “Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of WWII.” Bush was so impressed by it that he insisted all senior White House staff members be given a copy. Based in part on his own reading of Dower’s book, Bush jumped to the conclusion that if the U.S. Army occupied Iraq in somewhat the same manner it occupied Japan in 1945, it would be possible to rebuild that troubled, oil-rich Middle Eastern nation with the sort of democratic reforms witnessed by so many Japanese during Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s reign as Japan’s postwar American “Shogun.”

Dower might have called Bush a “dunce” for making such an illogical supposition. For one thing, MacArthur didn’t carry out a pre-emptive strike against Japan. Japan struck the first blow at Pearl Harbor. But more importantly, the Japanese people were very receptive to SCAP’s democratic agenda of the day, such as fair elections, greater religious freedom and agricultural land reform.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

robert mckinney