I have been meaning to write about a terrific essay by John David Lewis called " `Gifts from Heaven': The Meaning of the American Victory over Japan, 1945" published by The Objective Standard. I’m glad to see Andrew Bostom has written an excellent appraisal of the piece.
An assessment of both the American victory and, even more illuminating, the American occupation of Japan, Lewis' essay focuses exclusively on our past. But it offers illuminating contrasts to our current travails in the Middle East, particularly given the historic challenges posed by the animating, warlike state religion of Shinto, and its obvious similarities to the animating, warlike state religion of Islam.
Back then, the American government was of one mind when it came to assessing the dangerously aggressive creed of state Shintoism. U.S. foreign policy at the time was not predicated on a belief in “moderate Shintoism” advanced by the fireside chats of President Roosevelt pushing the notion that “Shintoism is a religion of peace” when not visiting Shinto shrines and engaging in strenuous “Shinto outreach.” There was no talk of “radical Shintoists” who had hijacked a great religion, or “militant extremist Shintoismists" who were the problem; there was talk about the ideology of Shintoism. There was also talk—and, even more important, concerted action—about how to remove Shintoism’s influence from the public life of Japan—from its schools, from its government, from its press. (What you might call de-jihadization would be an update on this—something we have never demanded of the Palestinian Authority, for example, when it comes to its uninterupted Islamic religious incitement against Jews and Americans in state-run media and mosques.)
The US-ordained de-Shinto-ization process in Japan forms the remarkable substance of John David Lewis article. It reads like a blueprint for success, but perhaps only for mid-20th century USA, another country and another ethos entirely from our country and ethos today. Which isn’t to say there aren’t lessons in this historical episode. And they strike me as this:
Anyone who says the US experience in Japan--in which a militaristic theocracy was converted into a land of baseball-playing, electronics- manufacturing democrats—is analagous to what we have done and are doing in Iraq knows zilch about this history. And that goes (especially) for President Bush. The devastation of Japan and its people went so far beyond that of Iraq and its people as to nullify any comparison right off the bat. Ditto for our undeviating policy for destroying state Shintoism. On the contrary, in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have sponsored constitutions that enshrine sharia as the highest law in the land.
Bottom line? The conditions of defeat and devastation in Japan, and resolve and vision in the US that together allowed us to remake Japan into a modern democratic state do not exist today with regard to the Islamic Middle East. To borrow the title of an essay I wrote about earlier, this seems to put us on a "Surge to Nowhere." Time, if nothing else, should be telling us democratizing sharia nations is a futile endeavor. What we could really use a surge for is to become energy independent and to reinforce liberty, Western-style, is in the rapidly Islamizing West.