maandag 28 september 2009

The Past Is Not Quite Past

by Victor Davis Hanson

War II Thoughts

We can learn a lot about our present dilemmas through looking at the past. This month I’m teaching an intensive class on World War II, and again reminded how history is never really history. One lesson: do not judge past decisions by present considerations or post facto wisdom from a Western point of view, but understand them given the knowledge and thinking of the times from an enemy perspective.

We ridicule the disastrous Japanese decision to go to war against the American colossus on December 7, 1941. But that correct analysis enjoys the benefit of hindsight, and does not explain why rather intelligent militarists for some reason believed that they could win, or at least within six months of aggrandizement obtain a truce. That they could not, and destroyed their country in the bargain, is not the point. Nor is “fanaticism” a completely adequate exegesis for Pearl Harbor; logic of a sort is.

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