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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #289: April 13, 2005

United Nations warns on Asian tensions

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

United Nations warns on Asian tensions
By Hugh Williamson in Berlin and Ray Marcelo in New Delhi


A little more than a year ago, in the early stages of the attack on Iraq, there were naive expectations that Iraq after the seizure by the foreign forces would follow the path generally in line with what had happened to Japan after 1945. For many people, there were no means, or had sufficient knowledge, to comment on such an assessment. Besides, people were too busy following the day-to-day developments, while contemplating on whether the attack was legitimate in the first place. And for those people having some knowledge of both Japan and Iraq, the notion was flatly ridiculous. But they did not speak out for various reasons, among which probably out of fear by commenting at all on the rebuilding process might give the impression of acknowledging the status quo, i.e. supporting the attack and seizure by the foreign forces.

Almost every time the issue of the Second World War comes up, it seems the comparison of the two big losers, Japan and Germany, is alluded to. The story follows a familiar plot of how the two villains, after being taught tough lessens by the force of justice, have behaved and faired since. A very simple storyline to follow, as evidenced by so many articles published to date. In fact, it is even the stance endorsed by the stipulations in the Charter of the United Nations, to consider Japan and Germany as enemies of the global community, as conceived originally by the winners of that war, and never amended since the inception the U.N.

It was reported in those times that when Iraqi soccer team lose a game, the team members would be literally beaten by the rulers or their family members for the reason that the team insulted the state. It is interesting to see if anyone would assert the similar argument for the U.S. team that when they lose, have the family members of Bush administration to clobber the team members. That's absurd, people might say. But promising large rewards, not by commercial entities but by the state itself or its arm, to sport delegations for winning in international events, is a very common practice in most parts of the world. Are not reward and punishment only two sides of a coin? - at least was it not so explained in business administration textbooks?

"Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. ---George Santayana. The expression "History repeats itself" is often misunderstood. It is a warning that same mistakes would be repeated if history is not studied carefully, and not that what is happening now is only a repetition of what happened in the past. What is the meaning or value of your own life it your existence is only a reincarnation of someone existed in the past? People make mistakes by not being able to study what they are facing now carefully in the light of history, and by simply relying on experience and resorting to seemingly similar events in the past that they think they know well.

It is not the intention here to get into the argument of what Japan did more than sixty years ago (which is still under scrutiny, except for established believers of either school) and how they "should" be evaluated now. But there is a danger of taking an easy route, by adopting as facts the largest of voices scream to be so, and to provide assessment of thus adopted facts according to the current day ethics vaguely based upon "democracy" and Christianity.

Study of history is definitely a worthwhile but a very daunting task, as any humble and diligent historian will tell you.

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