Whatever Washington would have the world think, many people will only ever believe that the recent U.S. invasion of Iraq was for oil. However, U.S. power diplomacy of the Bush administration’s “neoconservative” type is neither a new phenomenon, nor one confined to the Muslim Middle East.

On the third day of June 150 years ago (in July on the current calendar), Americans came to Japan for oil and to expand their sphere of influence around the Pacific. Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry’s “Black Ships” that appeared belching smoke from their funnels off Uraga at the mouth of Edo Bay presented such “shock and awe” to Japanese that the country was forced to end its closed-door policy that had lasted more than two centuries. Within little more than a decade, fundamental “regime change” was to follow.

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