Sunday, February 15, 2004


Seeing what Roddy recently posted on his webpage about President Bush got me to thinking. These days, in the Japanese media, there is a lot daily coverage about the upcoming American elections. The reason why this is so would necessitate a totally seperate entry in itself, so let me just say for now that Japan still thinks it needs America. (By the way, it is correct in thinking this.) Anyway, since there is a lot of wrangling currently going on over the integrity of the military service records of the various candidates, the Japanese media finds itself being asked to explain a sudden, searing question by politically astute viewers: Why is this kind of thing even important to Americans in the first place? So far, I've seen several different responses proffered by various Japanese critics of international politics here, but basically they all boil down to the same thing, which is that, since America is a country with a recent history of international aggression and a disproportionately high rate of domestic violence, Americans tend to see a candidate that has actively served in his country's military as having simply more relevance than a candidate who hasn't. Again, remember that these comments are coming from Japanese intellectuals trying their best to explain the what and why behind Americans thinking about their choices for President. Once of the things that's so striking about this is that the Japanese, acting out of a genuine desire to comprehend the American political mind, are led to make such inquiries, which must seem from the eyes of any 'normal' American to border on the naive. To them, such issues are a matter of course, and to question their primacy smacks of anti-patriotism, which in this day and age is the worst kind of heresy that one can commit. And the Japanese may in fact be naive, but it might just be their saving grace, since such questions can engender a sudden and total reversal in the current dialectical direction of political thought. As one commentator recently put it: 'But shouldn't a country, if for no other reason than that it suffers almost inescapably from violence itself, and that it, through this selfsame violence inflicts suffering on so many, consider paramount among the various candidates for the Presidency not the individual who will tend, because of a previous familiarity with violence, to act in accord with (if not escalate) the current situation, but rather, someone who will, due to a total lack of this same kind of experience, tend to choose the diametrically opposite path of peace?' OK, I have a confession to make, these are my own thoughts, but even so, they still seem no less provocative. If Gandhi were on the ballot this year, I'd vote for him. Ballots not bullets...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?