Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The link between Imperial Japan and Jihadist Islam

The Wall Street Journal had an excellent Op-Ed today that briefly discusses the links between World War II Japan and the various sects of Islam that advocate martyring yourself to kill others. The link is below, but because the WSJ is a pay site, here's the money quote:

Islam and Shintoism have very little in common, the one coming out of the Old Testament tradition and other with roots in far-eastern Buddhist and Confucian philosophies. But in the hands of power- hungry politicians, any belief capable of stirring human emotions will serve the purpose.

Yet another weapon familiar to us today is the inducement of youngsters to commit suicide to further the political goals of crazed power seekers. It was in Japan where the "kamikaze" was born. The word means "divine wind" and was derived from a typhoon that saved Japan from an invasion fleet in 1281, according to legend. In the late stages of the Pacific war, it described the young men who volunteered to crash airplanes into American warships to bestow honor and glory on themselves and their families.

The Japanese military chose not to use experienced pilots, who were in short supply. But they had no trouble recruiting idealistic young men to learn the rudiments of flying and then take to the air in obsolete aircraft loaded with a 250-pound bomb. The young martyrs were similar in purpose to the youths terrorists recruit today to explode bomb vests in crowded places, exploiting that latent impulse that, once awakened, propels some youths toward seeking a glorious, self-inflicted death.

By war's end, Japan had sent almost 4,000 youngsters out over the ocean to be shot down or consummate a fiery, metal-wrenching life's end crashing into an American ship. The U.S. Air Force credits them with sinking 34 Navy ships and damaging 368 others, killing 4,900 U.S. sailors and wounding about the same number.

That was a heavy toll but it didn't win the war, just as it is highly unlikely that today's brainwashed martyrs will change the course of history. One reason a victory is unlikely can be adduced from what happened in Japan after its government surrendered to U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur. It took awhile for the militarist fanatics, who claimed they had been betrayed by the emperor, to quiet down. But once they did, a new Japanese leadership class began, with MacArthur's guidance, to build a new Japan.

Recalling the Kamikazes of 60 Years Ago

If we were able to turn around the kamikaze culture in Japan, why can't we do it in the Middle East?

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