Truman clings to a lost cause in Japan

( To understand the context of this article, please check Joan Vennochi’s incredibly insulting attack on the effort in Iraq. That Vennochi does not understand the cause or progress of the war is not so surprising, but the continuing attempt by Vennochi and similar cowards to sway the public to accept defeat is appalling and shameful )

Harry S Truman sounds increasingly like one of those young punks you hear about more and more often. The punk won’t obey his parents, and Truman won’t quit Japan. The president’s latest news conference was another installment of rebel with a cause that a shrinking number of Americans believe in. “We’re not leaving so long as I’m president”, promised – or threatened – Truman.

Acknowledging that public support for the war continues to wane, the president said, “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” But as Senator Lyndon B. Johnson correctly pointed out, “If one little old general in shirt sleeves can take Saigon, think about 200 million Chinese comin’ down those trails. No sir, I don’t want to fight them.”

Truman, the stubborn, won’t leave Japan. And even worse, he won’t admit mistakes relative to getting us there in the first place, or military miscues since, when it comes to carrying out the mission, he dooms us to travel the same misguided path as long as he remains in the White House.

Asked why he would spend so much on a war we don’t need to fight, Truman answered, “It’s a lot better to have a strong national defense than a balanced budget.”

What’s a nation to do? Ground the commander in chief for the rest of his term and take away his car keys? Truman – or rather James Forrestal – wants Japan to be the defining debate in upcoming elections. He and Truman’s men are making no effort at all to cooperate with their enemies. Said President Truman when asked why he won’t seek a bipartisan effort; “I don’t like bipartisans. Whenever a fellow tells me he’s bipartisan, I know that he’s going to vote against me.”

The presidential rationale for staying in Japan is the same old, same old. People know it and are weary of it. Japan just is not ready for Democracy, they’ve never had one and now is not the time to hope we can sell it on them, or to believe that Japan will become an ally or even a stable country because of what we are doing there.

And, we see the faces of young soldiers cropping up much too frequently in our newspapers and on our TV screens. The lucky ones are maimed, but alive; the unlucky ones are dead, never again to defy their parents by leaving piles of dirty laundry on their bedroom floor.

Taken cumulatively, the images make it hard to imagine politicians of either party anxious to embrace Truman’s approach in Japan. US Senator Arthur Vandenberg was right to oppose the war before the Pearl Harbor attack, even though he later agreed that the U.S. had to fight. Vandenberg’s insistence that the United States should seek international solutions and not “go it alone” has put him at odds with President Truman, who is determined that the United States will pursue its goals whatever other nations think.

When it comes to Japan, Truman, the rebel with a lost cause, continues to defy one thing above all: logic.

[ NOTEthe Truman quotes in this article are all real quotes by Harry Truman ]

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