Written by Frank Li
With Iraq back in the news (e.g. Obama Authorizes Air Strikes in Iraq to Help Retake Dam and Losing Iraq), let me inject a new perspective by comparing America’s treatments of Japanese Emperor Hirohito and Saddam Hussein, in order to illustrate the real problem in Iraq and provide a real solution.
1. Emperor Hirohito
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
Emperor Shōwa (昭和天皇 Shōwa-tennō?, April 29, 1901 – January 7, 1989) was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order, reigning from December 25, 1926, until his death on January 7, 1989. Although better known outside of Japan by his personal name Hirohito (裕仁?), in Japan he is now referred to primarily by his posthumous name Emperor Shōwa. The word Shōwa is the name of the era that corresponded with the Emperor’s reign, and was made the Emperor’s own name upon his death. In Japanese, the reigning Emperor is referred to without a personal name as “his Majesty the Emperor” (天皇陛下 Tennō Heika?) or “his current Majesty” (今上陛下 Kinjō Heika?). The name Hirohito (裕仁) means “abundant benevolence”.
At the start of his reign, Japan was already one of the great powers – the ninth-largest economy in the world after Italy, the third-largest naval power, and one of the four permanent members of the council of the League of Nations. He was the head of state under the limitation of the Constitution of the Empire of Japan during Japan’s imperial expansion, militarization, and involvement in World War II. After the war, he was not prosecuted for war crimes as many other leading government figures were, and his degree of involvement in wartime decisions remains controversial among historians to this day. During the postwar period, he became the symbol of the new state and Japan’s recovery, and by the end of his reign, Japan had emerged as the world’s second largest economy.
2. Saddam Hussein
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (Arabic: صدام حسين عبد المجيد التكريتي Ṣaddām Ḥusayn ʿAbd al-Maǧīd al-Tikrītī; 28 April 1937 – 30 December 2006) was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. A leading member of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and later, the Baghdad-based Ba’ath Party and its regional organisation Ba’ath Party – Iraq Region-which espoused ba’athism, a mix of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism-Saddam played a key role in the 1968 coup (later referred to as the 17 July Revolution) that brought the party to power in Iraq.
In 2003, a coalition led by the U.S. and U.K. invaded Iraq to depose Saddam, in which U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair accused him of possessing weapons of mass destruction and having ties to al-Qaeda. Saddam’s Ba’ath party was disbanded and elections were held. Following his capture on 13 December 2003, the trial of Saddam took place under the Iraqi interim government. On 5 November 2006, Saddam was convicted of charges related to the 1982 killing of 148 Iraqi Shi’ites and was sentenced to death by hanging. His execution was carried out on 30 December 2006.
3. More on Emperor Hirohito
Throughout WWII, the Japanese military fought in his name and committed numerous atrocities. Three examples:
The invasion of China, including The Rape of Nanking.
The invasion of East Asia and South East Asia.
Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
In short, Emperor Hirohito was a WWII criminal! He should have been held accountable for Japan’s war crimes. But he was not …
Specifically, the U.S. chose to “settle” by not indicting him for one simple reason: It was better off to leave him as the Emperor than to prosecute (and then kill) him, for the sake of rebuilding Japan after the war! A Japan without an Emperor would be like a human being without a head, not functional at all!
The photo below shows Douglas MacArthur with Emperor Hirohito right after the official settlement in 1945.
A key piece of evidence suggests that the U.S. was leaning towards this settlement a few months before Japan’s surrender: the U.S. planes leveled Tokyo with merciless bombardment, but spared the Emperor’s palace, totally!
Overall, this settlement has worked out remarkably well for the world, Japan, as well as the Emperor personally, as evidenced by the photo below.
4. More on Saddam Hussein
Saddam was a bad dictator and a bad man. For example, he invaded Kuwait in 1990 (Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait), resulting in the Gulf War (which is also known as the “First Iraq War”), led and well executed by the U.S.
However, when compared with Emperor Hirohito, Saddam was nothing in terms of crimes committed against the U.S. or against the world for that matter. Nevertheless, President George W. Bush launched a pre-emptive war against Saddam on March 20, 2003, which is also known as the “Second Iraq War”. As a result, Saddam was executed by hanging on December 30, 2006 (photo below).
The Iraq War has cost the U.S. dearly. Two informative readings:
Worst of all, Iraq was destroyed! The Iraq without a strong man at the top has proven to be like a Japan without an Emperor, not functional at all!
Why such a huge difference in America’s treatments: Emperor Hirohito vs. Saddam Hussein? Examine the American Presidents at the time: Harry Truman vs. George W. Bush!
Bottom line: leadership matters! The America Presidency matters! For more, read: The America That Can No Longer Think, Politically.
For a comprehensive review of the Iraq War and the situation in Iraq today, watch this video: Losing Iraq.
Why such a big mess in Iraq today? Two main reasons:
George W. Bush: By recklessly launching the Iraq War, he destroyed Saddam’s stable government without replacing it with a stable one. A stable, no matter how bad, government is often better than no, or an unstable, government, be it for Japan after WWII or for Iraq today!
Barack Obama: He irresponsibly withdrew the U.S. troops without having stabilized Iraq to a reasonable level, for which America, as a country, had the responsibility, beyond Candidate Obama’s campaign promise! Consequently, the U.S. had to go back again (Obama Authorizes Air Strikes in Iraq to Help Retake Dam) recently, which actually marked the beginning of the “Third Iraq War.”
Here are two world views:
While George W. Bush and Tony Blair remain at large, Iraqis as well as many Americans continue to suffer …
Here is a critical question: can Iraq be saved? Yes, but it will be mostly up to the Iraqis and it will take a long time, definitely beyond the remainder of George W. Bush’s life, as well as Tony Blair’s.
One message should be loud and clear: There must be no further American military intervention in Iraq! Two main reasons:
We do not know what we are doing! Democracy is a failed doctrine in human history. Make it truly work at home first before further selling it abroad.
To prevent the U.S. from causing another tragedy like Iraq and to make democracy truly work at home, reform our political system, as I have suggested. For more, read: We, the Intelligent People of the United States …
From FDR and Harry Truman to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, times have indeed changed for America, for the worse, much worse!
With a good American President like Harry Truman, America prospered, both domestically and internationally. With a bad President like George W. Bush, America suffered. With a sequence of bad American Presidents like JFK, LBJ, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama (Correctly Assessing Chinese Leaders and American Presidents), America has been tanking, both domestically (Civil Rights Act: 50 Years Later) and internationally (The America That Can No Longer Think, Diplomatically)!
To save America, read my two books: “Saving America, Chinese Style” and “The GOP Bible for 2016”!