Iraq Can’t be Compared to Post-World War II

by Gene C. Gerard
April 24, 2006

In the past three years the Bush administration has vigorously made comparisons between reconstruction in Iraq and post-World War II Germany and Japan. Many of the administration’s analogies have been forced, at best. A variety of historians, political scientists, and even former government officials have suggested that the comparisons are rather tenuous. But a new report by the Congressional Research Service has essentially demolished the administration’s analogies.

Condoleezza Rice, as National Security Advisor, gave a speech to the American Legion convention in 2003 in which she made comparisons between Iraq and German reconstruction. She cautioned, “There is an understandable tendency to look back on America’s experience in postwar Germany and see only the successes, [but] 1945 through 1947 was an especially challenging period. Germany was not immediately stable. SS officers engaged in sabotage and attacked both coalition forces and those locals cooperating with them -- much like today’s Baathist.”

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld went even farther at the convention. He told the audience, “Nazi regime remnants… plotted sabotage of factories, power plants, rail lines. They blew up police stations and government buildings. Does this sound familiar?” The only problem with these comparisons is that they’re false. The Congressional Research Service (CRS), which acts as the nonpartisan public policy research office of Congress, notes in a new report comparing the occupation of Iraq with that of Germany and Japan, “Iraq faces an insurgency that deliberately sabotages the economy and reconstruction efforts, whereas there were no resistance movements in either Germany or Japan.”

In fact, to say that there were no organized resistance movements in post-World War II Germany and Japan is an understatement. Former Ambassador James Dobbins, along with the RAND Corporation, authored a study entitled America’s Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq, which determined that there was not a single post-war American combat casualty in Germany or Japan.

In 2003 President Bush gave a speech in which he said, “Following World War II, we lifted up the defeated nations of Japan and Germany, and we stood with them as they built representative governments. We committed years and resources to this cause. America today accepts the challenge of helping Iraq in the same spirit.” In reality, there are significant differences between both Germany and Japan and Iraq. Prior to the emergence of militarism in the 1920s, Japan essentially functioned as a constitutional monarchy. And before Hitler rose to power in the 1930s, Germany had a democratic parliamentary government. Iraq, by comparison, has never had a democratic government.
For those of you that don't already know this, we are still in Germany, Japan, and Korea. We have several bases in each country, and they are very active. We sure lifted them back onto there own feet, and then left them alone.....So I guess 50 years from now, we will still be in Iraq, and Afgan.

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