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May 25, 2004


We've been in Japan for roughly 60 years, wrote their constitution, and US government employees still enjoy a special legal status (SOFA) there.

And, while the Japanese are certainly more Westernized than they were before WWII or any other Asian nation, and their government says "how high" whenever we ask, their basic, day-to-day worldview is neither American nor Christian.

Any idea of whether the US administrators sent to Japan were comparable in ideology and lack of knowledge about Japanese culture as Agresto is, Roxanne. That would make the comparison more relevent.

Oh, you are so spot on this case. There are no MacArthur's in this administration.

elaborate please.

Any idea of whether the US administrators sent to Japan were comparable in ideology and lack of knowledge about Japanese culture as Agresto is, Roxanne.

Yes, just about all of them. I have very good friend who was born and raise in Japan but his mother and father, who both spent a little time in some of FDR's camps, commented on how the Japanese handle American expats at a dinner, they listened very closely, bowed and followed the decision of their Japnese boss. My friend's father was there to translate.

Now for the bad news Eddie, Bremmer has placed Americans in every ministry in Iraq in critical decision making positions. We are going to be there for a long time. The Iraqis will learn to handle the Americans, the same way the Germans, Japanese and Italians did after the end of WW II. The bright spot is all those countries prospered, I suspect Iraq will as well.

I wasn't in favor of the war in Iraq as it had nothing to do at the time with fighting terrorism. As a consequence of this administration's bungling, we now have a problem with terrorism in Iraq and a strengthened AQ.

Now that we're in Iraq, I don't think it's practical for us to pull out just yet. We've got to stay and make things right. Unfortunately, the folks in power lack the basic managerial competence and PR acumen required to do the job.

Having said that, I think the "Americanization of Iraq" is a foolhardy enterprise. If we couldn't Americanize the Japanese (well, except for the fact that, like us, they worship money), then ...

And, now I'm going back to work.

The Iraqis will learn to handle the Americans

Last night the family of Dr Izmerly were in little doubt he had been murdered in US custody. The reasons for his death were covered up, they believe.

"This was not natural," Rana told the Guardian yesterday, in the first interview given by the family since his death. "The evidence is clear. It suggests the Americans killed him and then tried to hide what they had done. I will hate Americans and British people for the rest of my life. You are democrats. You said you were coming to bring democracy, and yet you kill my father. By accepting your governments, you accept what they do here in Iraq.

"You offer no proof that he did something wrong, you refuse him a lawyer and then you kill him. Why?"


I'm very much afraid you're right, Timmy.

Things I'm hoping for:

- The other members of the security council are insistent that Iraq have full sovereignty, with the details of the authority of the interim Iraqi government's relation to the US forces spelled out.

- That the Iraqis insist on the above as the price of participation in the interim government.

- That BushCo needs some fig-leaf for our failing occupation bad enough that we yield to the two groups above.

- That the Iraqis are smart enough to avoid civil war until after the US has mostly or completely withdrawn its forces. (The new Iraqi Defense Minister said today that he hoped the US would be gone before the Iraqi elections in Jan.)

- That whatever happens in Iraq post Iraqi election in Jan. doesn't require the US to become involved militarily again, or that regional or UN teams can manage any difficulties.

This is Pollyanna Wednesday for me, so don't break my bubble.

Jim, it's Tuesday. ;0

thanks edward. have a cold and the days are blurring.

not my mind, however, (i hope)

If we couldn't Americanize the Japanese (well, except for the fact that, like us, they worship money), then ...

I submit that Japan is quite Americanized, and that the roots of this have more to do with Hollywood than MacArthur. Concerning money, Japan was a capitalist system in which the legally disenfranchised merchant class was able to use financial clout to wield significant influence back when Americans were burning witches.

Yes, just about all of them. I have very good friend...

I'm glad you chose those exact words, Timmy, as there were definitely glaring exceptions to the rule which you imply. Many of the now largely faded generation of old Japan hands were born to American parents and raised in Japan, and then forced to leave for the U.S. in the midst of rampant imperialist politics in the run up to the Pacific war. Many of these individuals took it upon themselves to serve at the pleasure of the president, including a number of men who eventually formed the core of MacArthur's language staff during the Manila meeting and throughout the course of the occupation (initially under the supervision of General Willoughby, MacArthur's wartime chief of intelligence). Libraries of seminal postwar research concerning Japan, in fields ranging from linguistics and religion to economics and political history, would eventually be published by these people.

I'm not trying to wholly refute your comment, Timmy, as I well know how painful an experience it is for an interpreter to watch a client unknowingly use the wrong body language, or to have to pass along spoken information that would have best remained unspoken. However, the occupation forces did rule through the existing government bureaucracy, and a number of very competent people made a significant and positive difference by their presence in the upper echelons of the general's staff. I can only hope that someone will be able to make similar statements about Iraq sixty years hence.

(A few anecdotes come to mind; but, assuming that most attention spans out there are as short as my own, I'll close.)

God, I love it when someone mentions Japan.



Good post and I agree completely with Watenpaugh's suggestions you quote. A couple of minor points, however.

First, the patron and the client are not identical. There's nothing intrinsically incompatible between such a relationship and Iraqis remaining Iraqis and looking out for Iraqi interests. Unless you're suggesting that Iraqis are fundamentally inimical to the U.S. and that U.S. and Iraqi interests are fundamentally at odds.

Second, I'm reflexively chary of turf battles and Watenpaugh's comments on Agresto sound like just that. I have no problem with loyalty being the main qualification of appointees. Let them hire and supervise specialist experts.

But, all in all, your post is sensible and a good contribution.

Ryan, there are always exceptions.

Dave, there may be no other way to invade a nation and then hand it back over other than to import ideologues who can best talk with the DoD officials in charge, but this goes beyond that. And perhaps Watenpaugh's focus on Agresto is simply a turf battle and therefore a bad example, but there's a rumor making the rounds that it was the strong desire to instill American economic and social models that delayed earlier elections/soveriegnty transfer and that this choice, in and of itself, is most responsible for the leadership vaccuum that the religious nuts and former Baathists stepped in to fill. In other words, because we wanted to ensure that the new systems would be compatible with a very American design on the Middle East (and I'm convinced it's much more economic than ideological), we lost our best opportunity to ensure a very Iraqi democracy.

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