Nation Building. Many threads combined.

Let’s say for arguments sake that we withdrew from Japan instead of dropping nukes on them to garner a complete surrentder thus changing their entire government. The previous thread would suggest that they would have attacked again. Let’s also suppose that they were not intent on occupying the US as part of the AXIS. Let’s 'spose that we could have left them alone to their own evolution.

Would they be better off? I can hardly think of a sequence of events where they would be. Was it our after war reparations or our use of force to give them our government? (sort of)

The debate that I want to insue in this thread is the meat of many others going on at this time.

Are we our brothers keepers? Do we know what is best for them? Will Iraq be better off with our sytem of government or are we a bunch of pompass asses to think that?

I’m sure the Chinese and Koreans would’ve just loved that. The most likely result of the U.S. deciding the heck with it and going home, though, is the Soviets invading Japan, leading to a huge death-toll on both sides. I don’t know how long Japan could’ve hung on, but I bet quite a while.

The nukings weren’t supposed to be a lesson for the Japanese’ own good. It was to finish them off as quickly as possible. Post-war support of their economy and government helped them somewhat, but the larger goal was to keep the Soviets at bay.

Comparing the Japanese to the Iraqi is apples and oranges. The Japanese were already involved in an industrial revolution during the war. The system of government might not have been terribly stable, but the general infrastructure society chugged along.

  Iraq has had a long history of violence, dictatorships, tribal warfare, and other sundry issues, not to mention a strong theocratic slant to their governmental system.  They have large oil reserves, but little else in terms of manufacturing or food agriculture. 

 While I don't believe that we have any buisness in either country, Iraq certainly has a more pressing need for intervention than Japan did. The only similarity is the occupation in intrest of national security. IMHO Iraq is likely to fail where the Japanese succeded though.

It is sheer arrogance for any first-world country to believe that they can invade a third-world country and transform it into a reasonably successful state. In theory, it’s nonsense. How can people in first-world country A possibly be more successful at running third-world country B than the people of country B? Plainly people in B know more about the society of B, are more invested in the long-term success of B, and are more likely to be trusted by other people in B. A has absolutely no advantages when it comes to setting up a government, running the economy, and protecting the citizenry.

Germany and Japan after WWII already had a large, unified population, necessary infrastructure, and necessary cultural background for becoming first-world democracies. Third-world countries do not. First-world countries have not successfully nation built any third-world country into a first-world country at any time during the last 60 years. The list of failures keeps growing longer: Guatemala, Iran, Algeria, Vietnam, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, and unfortunately there are probably many more to come.

The pompous-ass part is thinking anything like the American form of government is possible for Iraq, in its current form and territory, without a very long process of social and political evolution and a whole lot of old scores being brutally settled.

You have a flaw in your premise. We didn’t change the entire system of Japanese government–we overlaid principles of our own government on top of their existing governmental structures. The monarchy, the beauracracy, the parliament, and the court system were all left intact–changed, but intact. Only a few governmental institutions, such as the military, underwent a ground-up overhaul.

If the United States had backed away from finishing off Japan then Russia would have done it, adding it to the list of nations behind the Iron Curtain.

Even if the Russians didn’t intervene the Japanese military machine was smashed. By 1945 they were unable to project power beyond the home islands. Isolated and cut off from external sources of iron, coal and petroleum the Japanese would never have been able to rebuild an effective navy.

The Japanese never had any plans to occupy the U.S. That was utterly beyond their capabilities and they knew it. Their only goal in starting the war was to destroy the capacity of the United States to project power into the Pacific so that the Japanese could continue their imperialism in China and Southeast Asia with a free hand.

They almost certainly would have been worse off. Without the U.S. occupation Japan would have suffered the same fate as Spain (stagnating for years under a military dictatorship) or East Germany (stagnating for years as part of Russia’s empire).

Let’s post mortem this one then.

What exactly did we do to Japan? Besides make them un-communist.
As I see it, Iraq was becoming industrialized, and more secular.
Maybe we have the Shaw of Iran problem going on here and when we leave the religion will fill the power vacuum. They were OK killing themselves for centuries.
My OP was, do we care? What is our gain in this? Is it Ethical then, and now? Apples and oranges don’t cut it. What is the differnece?

Also the Shinto religion was disestablished and the peerage was abolished, but you’re right.

I suppose it’s theoretically possible to build a stable democracy in Iraq. But in my view, the Bush administration has never taken the necessary steps to build a stable democracy, nor will it. It has also taken numerous steps that make it much less likely that a stable democracy will result. I see no reason to entertain notions of a fictional stable democracy in my calculations about US national security.

There’s no magic blueprint for how to build a stable democracy. Every stable democracy we have in the world came about under more or less unique circumstances. However, there have been plenty of democracies which have fallen, and we can look at the circumstances behind their fall to try and determine what not to do.

As an example, the Russians had a democracy and now they’ve got a psuedo-dictatorship. Why? Part of it has to do with the lack of security and part of it has to do with the Russian economic collapse during their “shock-treatment” days. If one actually wanted to avoid the problems of Russia, then it makes sense to provide complete security and to make the economic transition to a free-market orderly. That’s not what this administration did. It failed to field enough troops to provide order (I personally think something like this requires on the order of 1 million troops), and it dissolved the Iraqi military. Then it shut down the Iraqi Baathist socialist economy overnight. Both of these actions greatly diminished the likelihood that a stable democracy would result.

You ask what the difference is with Japan. I’ve explained that we overlaid a democracy on top of existing governmental structures. That’s not what happened in Iraq. Every Iraqi governmental institution, from the local levels to the national level, collapsed during our invasion, and this administration made no effort to keep anything intact. We simply have no precedent for a stable democracy resulting from a wholesale collapse of every governmental structure. The closest I can think of is post-WWII, where the Nazi party ceased to function as a governing entity in Germany, thereby collapsing large portions of the national government. But even there, certain governmental institutions, such as local governments and the court system continued to function. By allowing the Iraqi government to collapse wholesale, this administration has made it less likely that a stable democracy will result.

That’s just but two examples. I could fill a whole thread with this kind of stuff.

So … We should have left them intact, and then forced our values on them?

It wasn’t my idea to “force our values” on anyone by going to build democracy in Iraq. But if that’s what you want to do, then you have to actually avoid taking steps that will make a stable democracy less likely.