Please invade this city

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The President focused his weekly radio address on Iraq and the need to remove Saddam Hussein. He also issued promises to the Iraqi people that he will not leave them to suffer from this war:

Rebuilding Iraq will require a sustained commitment from many nations, including our own. We will remain in Iraq as long as necessary, and not a day more.

He equates the situation in Iraq to that of Japan and Germany following World War II. All that’s needed is for us to enter Iraq, with or without the UN, and this country, too, will soon be on its way to prosperity and peace:

America has made and kept this kind of commitment before – in the peace that followed World War II. After defeating enemies, we did not leave behind occupying armies; we left constitutions and parliaments. We did not leave behind permanent foes; we found new friends and allies.

As part of the requirements for a modern history class I took in college, the professor gave us an assignment to interview two people from the period of time we were most interested in. My focus in that class was on World War II and I interviewed my father, who had been part of the 82nd Airborne. I also interviewed Frank Turner, my sociology teacher who had lied about his age and fought during the end of the war, serving as part of the occupational forces.

During the interview, Frank told me about one event in particular. He was riding on a train that also contained food and canned milk destined for occupation forces and their families. At a stop along the way there was a large crowd of people from the surrounding communities, all hungry, all seeking help from the occupation forces. The crowd begged the soldiers for food or milk for their children, and pressed in against the train. In the panic, the soldiers fired, both into the air and into the crowd.

Frank told me that he didn’t see anyone killed. He didn’t believe anyone was killed.

There are so many differences between the situation in Germany and Japan at the end of World War II, and an invasion of Iraq today, that to compare the two situations is ludicrous. Both Germany and Japan had been aggressors in a war that involved the world. The US involvement in the occupation of both Germany and Japan not only had the support of all the allies and other countries, but most of the people in these countries, too.

John Dower, who wrote the book, “Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II”, has denied any similarity between Japan post World War II and the Iraq of today. In an opinion he wrote for the New York Time in October last year, Dower said:

Contrary to what self-anointed “realists” seem to be suggesting today, however, most of the factors that contributed to the success of nation-building in occupied Japan would be absent in an Iraq militarily defeated by the United States.

When war ended in 1945, the United States-dominated occupation of Japan had enormous moral as well as legal legitimacy in the eyes of the rest of the world. This was certainly true throughout Asia, so recently savaged by the Japanese war machine. It was true among America’s European allies as well. There was a level of unequivocal regional and global support that a projected United States war against Saddam Hussein does not enjoy.

The occupation also had legitimacy in the eyes of almost all Japanese. The Japanese government formally accepted this when it surrendered. Emperor Hirohito, great weather-vane that he was, gave his significant personal endorsement to the conquerors. And Japanese at all levels of society quickly blamed their own militaristic leaders for having initiated a miserable, unwinnable war. Saddam Hussein will never morph into a Hirohito figure, and a pre-emptive war will surely alienate great numbers of Iraqis, even many who might otherwise welcome Mr. Hussein’s removal.

We are different from the America of long ago. Back then we were a country fresh from victory in a difficult war. We could afford to be compassionate because we had seen for ourselves the terrible price the Japanese paid for their invasion of Pearl Harbor, and the Germans paid for their aggression. We, who did not suffer the damages of most of the our allies, urged reform and pushed to bring about self-rule. As Dower wrote:

The great legal and institutional reforms that continue to define Japanese democracy today reflected liberal New Deal policies that now seem testimony to a bygone age: land reform that eliminated widespread rural tenancy at a stroke; serious encouragement of organized labor; the drafting of a new constitution that not only outlawed belligerence by the state, but also guaranteed an extremely progressive range of civil rights to all citizens; restructuring of schools and rewriting of textbooks; revision of both the civil and penal codes, and so on. It is hard to imagine today’s “realists” making this sort of lasting, progressive agenda their primary concern.

Japan has been strongly supportive of the US in its plans for an invasion of Iraq, and even sees itself being part of the postwar forces, a bit of irony if there is one. However, when one considers that one of the countries most vehemently against a US-based invasion of Iraq is Germany, the other ‘poster child’ of American occupational benevolence, one has to wonder exactly who the President is trying to convince with this eleventh hour urgency to help the Iraqi people?

However, if its true that the President will provide help to the people of a region after an invasion than I have a request for Mr. Bush: invade us.

California just updated its unemployment rates to find out that the earlier estimates of the unemployed were off by as much as 150%. This only adds to the general fear about jobs in this country. Petroleum prices are rising, and more and more people can’t afford to buy the medicine they need. To bad some of the money going for unwanted smallpox vaccinations couldn’t be used to help the people who are dying now.

Even Armani is feeling the pinch as fashion sales decline due to a the continuing discussion of war. Today’s new pink is definitely not orange.

If the only way that we the people of this country can get the attention of our president is to be invaded then so be it. Mr. President, please invade St. Louis. We need your help.

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