Iraq is not Japan
I know this is kinda obvious but sometimes it's necessary to say the obvious.
Starting last fall, we began to hear that U.S. policymakers were looking into Japan and Germany after World War II as examples or even models of successful military occupations. In the case of Japan, the imagined analogy with Iraq is probably irresistible. Although Japan was nominally occupied by the victorious “Allied powers” from August 1945 until early 1952, the Americans ran the show and tolerated no disagreement. This was Unilateralism with a capital “U”—much as we are seeing in U.S. global policy in general today. And the occupation was a pronounced success. A repressive society became democratic, and Japan—like Germany—has posed no military threat for over half a century.
The problem is that few if any of the ingredients that made this success possible are present—or would be present—in the case of Iraq. The lessons we can draw from the occupation of Japan all become warnings where Iraq is concerned. [More]