In his speech on Wednesday, President Bush quoted an “interesting observation” by “one historian” on people criticizing U.S. efforts to help Japan rebuild after World War II, as support for his policies in Iraq:
You know, the experts sometimes get it wrong. An interesting observation, one historian put it — he said, “Had these erstwhile experts” — he was talking about people criticizing the efforts to help Japan realize the blessings of a free society — he said, “Had these erstwhile experts had their way, the very notion of inducing a democratic revolution would have died of ridicule at an early stage.”
Yet yesterday, the historian, MIT professor John Dower, called Bush’s use of his work “perverse“:
They [war supporters] keep on doing this. They keep on hitting it and hitting it and hitting it and it’s always more and more implausible, strange and in a fantasy world. They’re desperately groping for a historical analogy, and their uses of history are really perverse. … I have always said as a historian that the use of Japan [in arguing for the likelihood of successfully bringing democracy to Iraq] is a misuse of history.