by Frank Li
Here are the top two news stories on December 7, 2011:
Upon seeing these two titles, I immediately linked them together, via the similarities to the basis for the Iraq war, as shown by this diagram:
Next, let’s look at these three blocks one by one.
1. The Pearl Harbor attack
Let’s view it from both sides: Japan and the U.S., respectively.
1.1 From the Japan side
Two Japanese individuals were chiefly responsible for the Pearl Harbor attack:
By 1940, Japan pretty much occupied the entirety of East Asia, including Korea, China, and the Philippines. The only military threat to more Japanese expansions was America, the Pacific Fleet specifically. So there was a big debate between the Japanese Army and the Japanese Navy about what to do with that threat. The Army, led by Tojo, wanted to attack Pearl Harbor where the Pacific Fleet was headquartered. The Navy, led by Yamamoto, was against the idea of an attack. Below is a rumored conversation between the two:
Tojo: Can you wipe out the Pacific Fleet in a few days?
Yamamoto: Yes, I can. But then what?
Tojo: Hmm … Let’s worry about that later.
Yamamoto was a Harvard graduate and a well traveled man, having seen the potential of America. Tojo, on the other hand, was limited in his knowledge about America. The debate between them was over as soon as Tojo became the Prime Minister on October 17, 1941. Tojo ordered Yamamoto to attack Pearl Harbor, which was carried out on December 7, 1941.
What a huge mistake by the Japanese! That got America into WWII, which ultimately led to a total defeat of Imperial Japan!
1.2 From the U.S. side
The Pearl Harbor attack was by far the largest attack by a foreign force to a U.S. territory. The U.S. responded decisively, correctly, and eventually victoriously.
2. The Iraq war
Let’s also view it from both sides: the U.S. and Iraq, respectively.
2.1 From the U.S. side
I have been highly critical of the Iraq war, as shown in this post. Additionally, I often use the analogy that invading Iraq after Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11 would be like retaliating against Canada for the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor. Totally illogical and wrong!
(1) Iraq was not part of the 9/11/2001 attack on America.
(2) Saddam Hussein, the dictator in Iraq at the time, was not friendly with Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attack, and there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq before the Iraq war!
Now, a question: before the Iraq war was launched, was there a debate inside the Bush administration similar to the one between Tojo and Yamamoto before the Pearl Harbor attack? I bet yes, especially the “then what?” part! Even citizen at the time Barack Obama was opposed to the war as far back as 2002 (Barack Obama’s Stirring 2002 Speech Against the Iraq War)!
The Iraq war represents not only the worst mistake in the U.S foreign policy, which has been somewhat acknowledged within the U.S., but also, in my view, the worst form of government corruption in U.S. history (more on this later). In fact, it was so bad that I predicted, in this earlier post, that the Iraq war “will eventually be marked as the beginning of the end of democracy as we know it.”
2.2 From the Iraq side
Is Iraq better off today than in those days under Saddam? I don’t think so! Furthermore, are you excited about the Arab Spring? Do not be! Here is an excerpt from an earlier post of mine (“Loop Theory: Capitalism vs. Socialism”):
My fellow Americans, we destroyed Iraq via the Iraq war, and it will take the Iraqis several decades at least to restore Iraq to its pre-war condition in terms of prosperity. So keep this in mind: just as we remembered the Pearl Harbor attack after 70 years, the Iraqis will be remembering the Iraq war in 70 years!
3. Government mistakes or corruption
The Pearl Harbor attack proved to be a huge mistake by the Japanese government. Who made that mistake specifically? Tojo, as he was a de facto dictator! Tojo was eventually held accountable - He was hanged on December 23, 1948!
The Iraq war was obviously a huge mistake by the U.S. government. Who made that mistake specifically? President George W. Bush? Perhaps, but he was not a dictator. Who has been held accountable for that mistake? No one!
3.1 U.S. government corruption
To me, the Iraq war was a crime against humanity! It was the result of the worst possible form of government corruption, from President George W. Bush to Congress, for three main reasons as follows:
(1) Here is an excerpt from my post (Diagnosis for America: Cancer): “Is our President, throughout his 1st-term, for nothing but getting himself re-elected, with everything else being secondary? If the answer is yes (which I believe it is), we cannot ever expect the President to always do the right things for the country (vs. for himself) throughout his 1st-term, can we?”
(2) Here is what I wrote in this post (From the Afghan story to America: the good, the bad, and the ugly): “Although many reasons were given for the Iraq war (e.g. “for WMDs” per some initially; “for oil,” per Alan Greenspan; and “for spreading democracy,” per President George W. Bush), the simple truth is that with the start of the Iraq war, President Bush’s re-election was secured.”
(3) Now, let’s recall how the Iraq war bill was passed in Congress: with a heavy push by the Bush administration, it was passed with an overwhelming majority! Why and how? Because there was tremendous political pressure to do something about Iraq at the time and few could afford to vote against the bill, which would have been a re-election killer for sure. Voting for it, on the other hand, had absolutely no negative consequences personally whatsoever. In other words, whether it was just or not was a non-issue. Nor was whether it was right or good for America. It was about “me” and it was the re-election, stupid!
According to Wikipedia, “In philosophical, theological, or moral discussions, corruption is spiritual or moral impurity or deviation from an ideal.” Is it an American ideal for a Congressman (or Congresswoman) to vote for no purpose but his (or her) own re-election? No! When most in the same institution (e.g. Congress) deviate from that ideal, it’s institutional corruption. When that institution represents a government, it’s government corruption!
3.2 Why the Iraq war, anyway?
Here is my account for the Iraq war, in a Sherlock Holmes style!
While “the Pearl Harbor attack was by far the largest attack by a foreign force to a U.S. territory,” the 9/11 attack was by far the largest attack by a foreign force to the U.S. mainland in modern times. Like our response to the Pearl Harbor attack, our response to the 9/11 attack was decisive and correct: We launched a war in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, to go after Osama Bin Laden. However, by the summer of 2002, it became clear that the war in Afghanistan was not easily winnable and therefore could have put President Bush's re-election in jeopardy. Something bigger must be done to turn the public’s attention away from Afghanistan - Iraq was chosen! That, to me, was the real reason behind the Iraq war! In other words, Iraq was simply a casualty of American politics at the time! That was the key reason behind my prediction that “George W. Bush will prove to be the worst American President in history.”
The truth will prevail eventually!
3.3 Now, enter Blagojevich …
Rod Blagojevich was a career politician who “served” in Congress for six years before becoming the Governor of Illinois in 2002. He spent most of his career enriching himself and was finally caught on tape trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Obama, which eventually led to his conviction in 2011. In case you were unaware, his predecessor, George Ryan, is still serving his 6½-year jail term for corruption. So while I am proud to be a long-time resident in Chicagoland, I am not proud of Illinois politics.
As a matter of fact, four out of the past nine Governors of Illinois went to jail! Are we Illinoisans just unlucky to have so many corrupted politicians at the top? Or are we Illinoisans lucky to have so many of them brought to justice? Neither! Corruption is wide spread among the elected officials throughout the U.S. at all levels! In other words, there are many Blago-likes still active and there will be many more Blago-likes brought to justice in the coming years.
While I applaud the efforts to bring Blagojevich and Blago-likes to justice, I must point out that it’s not the real solution to stop, or even to slow down, corruption in the U.S. government, just like killing the insurgents in Iraq or in Afghanistan is not the real solution over there – They are being produced faster than being killed! We must identify the root cause first and then fix it! What is the root cause of insurgence in Iraq or in Afghanistan? Our mere presence over there! What is the root cause of corruption in the U.S. government? It’s the political system, stupid!
Blagojevich is perhaps the most severely punished politician in America for corruption. However, the corruption involved in the launch of the Iraq war was at the highest level and thus infinitely worse than Blagojevich’s crime! Who is going to be held accountable for the Iraq war? No one! Who is pursuing it? No one!
3.4 Back to U.S. government corruption
The current form of the U.S government, as represented by the elected officials, is systematically corrupted by definition! Here is an excerpt from my last post:
Because re-election is most important to them, most American politicians simply can’t get their priorities right! It should be country first, constituents next, and personal agendas last. But in reality, they have them completely reversed! Still wondering why and how America is so deeply in trouble? Wonder not! It’s the political system, stupid!
More pointedly, over the past decade at least, the corrupted U.S. political system has caused most damage not only at home (e.g. pandering to the public-sector unions), but also abroad (e.g. the Iraq war)!
Here is the common thread between the Pearl Harbor attack and the Iraq war: Both are blatant acts of naked aggression!
Admittedly, it’s a long stretch to link Blagojevich with the Pearl Harbor attack. But hopefully, you get the point: it’s time to fix our “broken” political system once for all!
About the Author
Frank Li is the Founder and President of W.E.I. (West-East International), a Chicago-based import & export company. Frank received his B.E. from Zhejiang University (China) in 1982, M.E. from the University of Tokyo in 1985, and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988, all in Electrical Engineering. He worked for several companies until 2004, when he founded his own company W.E.I. Today, W.E.I. is a leader in the weighing industry not only in products & services, but also in thought and action.