Historian Begs to Differ With the Decider

Says Bush keeps misquoting him on post-war Japan
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2007 1:53 PM CDT
President Bush waves to a group of spectators as he exits Air Force One, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007, at Texas State Technical College in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo, Jerry Larson)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A historian quoted by President Bush yesterday said his words were misused in a “perverse” attempt to defend the Iraq War, Politico reports. At issue is John Dower's statement in a 1999 book that if naysayers had had their way, the fledgling democracy in Japan after WWII “would have died of ridicule at an early age.” Bush used the comparison to rebuff Iraq critics.

But Dower said the analogy was all wrong, arguing that the occupation of Iraq lacked  “preparation, thoughtfulness, understanding”—the tools that enabled the Japanese reconstruction to be successful. He pointed Politico to articles he’d written in recent years using the same historical examples to draw the opposite conclusion—that the White House's expected outcomes in Iraq were much too optimistic.