In yesterday’s speech Bush said: “‘An interesting observation, one historian put it, ‘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.'” Avi Zenilman getting the historian in question to comment:
A historian quoted by President Bush to help argue that critics of the administration’s Iraq policy echo those who questioned the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Japan after World War II angrily distanced himself from the president’s remarks Thursday.
“They [war supporters] keep on doing this,” said MIT professor John Dower. “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.”
The book is Embracing Defeat and, since as revealed in the Natalie Portman discussion, I took a class on modern Japan once, I’ve read the book. Were one so inclined, one could have subtitled this one “why analogies between post-war Japan and post-war Iraq are wildly inappropriate,” though since it was published in 1999 that’s probably not what Dower had in mind.