Germany and Japan-And Iraq. (Foreign Policy & Defense)

The Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Germany and Japan-And Iraq. (Foreign Policy & Defense)


"Occupational Hazards" by Douglas Porch, in The National Interest (Summer 2003), 1615 L St., N.W., Ste. 1230, Washington, D.C. 20036.

Some proponents of preventive war in Iraq suggested that postwar nation-building after the war would be a snap. Look at how the United States turned Germany and Japan into model democracies after World War II. But the task, in fact, wasn't so easy then, and it will be even harder in Iraq, argues Porch, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

"The truth is that a full decade after World War II's finale, many U.S. 'nation-builders' considered their efforts a nearly complete failure--and for good reason," he writes. In surveys taken at the time, a majority of Germans said that their country's "'best time in recent history had been during the first years of the Nazis.'" Instead of gratitude and an enthusiastic embrace of democracy, U.S. reformers in Germany and Japan "encountered torpor, resentment, and resistance," says Porch.

During the 1950s and 1960s, both the Germans and the Japanese overcame their resentment, and the two nations evolved into flourishing, peace-loving democracies. But that resulted less from Allied occupation policies, Porch says, than from various other factors, including "enlightened political leadership, 'economic miracles' spurred by the Marshall Plan in Europe and the Korean War in Japan, and the precedent, however frail, of functioning democratic government in both countries." The Germans and the Japanese were talented, technologically advanced peoples, eager to put the devastating war behind them. "Above all, though, fear of the Soviets caused leaders in both countries, supported by their populations, to take shelter under the U.S. military umbrella."

"Post-Saddam Iraq is a poor candidate to replicate the success of Japan and Germany," Porch maintains. …

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