3.21.2005

The future is now

Ahh, glorious spring break. Exams done for a while, and no work for a week. Glorious.

So, what's up, you ask. Well. I've seen the future, and it is good. To whit: I had a vision of how Iraq will be taught 50 years from now. Yes, that's triumphalist. I'm confident, though.

The vision came in my History of American Foreign Relations. "A glimpse of the future in a history class? Wha?" But it's true! The topic was post-WWII Japan, and our professor began by saying that nobody could possibly have thought it would have gone as well as it did. Japan, after all, was culturally different than the US! It had never seen democracy before! The populace hadn't given up yet - the surrender came from the Emperor and was forced on the people!

The professor started with the positives, which were generally obvious. But he noted that they were at odds with Japanese culture - women had never been men's equals, and yet here was MacArthur forcing equality and even voting rights for women. Culture was likewise changed - Japan became one of the top foreign consumers of Hollywood movies.

But there were problems - we censored communist voices (even though, according to the same lecture, the socialist and communist parties were on the rise at the time) and allowed the zaibatsu ("big corporation") ethic to continue.

So, what does this have to do with Iraq? We're there uninvited. The cultural differences are vast, and we aren't paying proper obeisance to Arab Muslim culture. We're crowding out the voices of Muslim extremists/terrorists. Nobody could have predicted it would turn out as well as it's going. Or so the critics say.

So when the prof asked rhetorically how many of us could have predicted that the Japan occupation would have gone as well as it did, I smiled to myself and thought, "probably the same number that thought the Iraq occupation would turn out well."