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Sunday, Mar. 8, 2009

READERS IN COUNCIL

An attitude that spells disaster


By PETER LINK
Kyoto

Roger Pulvers' comment about America's failure to reflect on its interventionist blunders in his March 1 Counterpoint article ("Obama please note: Those who fail to master the past are guilty, too") gets right to the point. I have heard it many times myself from the mouth of Americans: They agree that a certain war was wrong but that the United States had the best intentions. Moreover, if the U.S. didn't secure energy supplies, people would be freezing over there in Europe.

Such a statement, which seems to be another version of the oft-repeated mantra that "We Americans get things done, the tough but just way," involves ignorance for doing the wrong thing and arrogance for refusing to accept responsibility for it. If you combine these two attitudes with nationalism or patriotism, you are sure to get a recipe for disaster, as was demonstrated by the Bush administration, which used this mixture to lure people into a quagmire.

The U.S. qualifies as the No. 1 user of weapons of mass destruction since World War II. A preferred euphemism of American warfare has been "strategic bombing." The true meaning behind this is carnage, as stated by U.S. Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay during WWII and more recently by President George W. Bush during "shock and awe."

U.S. Sen. John McCain, who started singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran . . ." at one point without having to account for it, showed the world how little empathy an American presidential candidate can demonstrate for the suffering of other people.

As for the discussion about "collective responsibility" in Japan, if you are refused admission to a bathhouse, you can still walk home and take a shower. If you happen to live in a country with a political system disliked by the U.S. president, or in a village that U.S. intelligence suspects as "Islamist," there is a good chance you won't walk at all.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.


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