MIT Prof Compares Japan & Iraq
Dower made it apparent to the audience that his theory was unconventional and contested within the international community before he explained that a staggering amount of similarities could be found between the United States’ reaction to terrorism in the 2000s and Japan’s military aggression at the end of WWII. Dower stated this assumption based on the how Japan and the U.S used their military and the manner they handled offensive measures. These methods were seen by Dower as part of our “Cultures of War” which is a society’s view of the rules, strategy and purpose of war.
Using Japan as a new lens to view the U.S., Dower investigated the War on Terror. One point that Dowry made is that both Japan and the U.S did not take time to research their enemy fully before using military power. According to Dower, Japan did not understand the full capabilities of the American industry nor their nationalism. Similarly the U.S. did not educate their military on how to combat insurgencies and promote stability in an area plagued by many ethnic divisions. Tyler Regal ’14 majoring in International Studies felt that Dower’s analysis was compelling. “He offered a very interesting comparison between World War II Japan and the modern day US. His lecture was insightful and provided an intriguing perspective.”
Anther point which Dower discussed is that the like WWII United States has been living in a “dream world” where action is being taken without thought or without understanding the full implications of their military decisions. He believes that the Japanese and United States administrations were swept up in notions of illogical self-preservation and technological superiority. Dower indicated that once these wars began the increasing number of causalities made it even harder for an administration to back out of an engagement despite its ineffectiveness.
The audience greatly enjoyed the lecture as and many students were inclined to share their thoughts and pose questions to Dower at the Q&A session that followed. Many students in the audience had read Dower’s works and were eager to offer their opinions and questions.
“John Dower is by far my favorite historian” Marie Gray ’14 explained “not just because he explains the evolution of Japanese culture throughout WWII and into post-war Japan, but because he touches on the fact that our interpretation of history is constantly changing based on the angles we choose to look at a particular subject.”