Front Page Titles (by Subject) American Preconceptions of Japan - Literature of Liberty, Summer 1980, vol. 3, No. 2
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American Preconceptions of Japan - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Summer 1980, vol. 3, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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American Preconceptions of Japan
“The Outbreak and Termination of the Pacific War: A Juxtaposition of American Preconceptions.” Journal of Peace Research 15(No. 1, 1978):33–49
After Pearl Harbor two divergent interpretations emerged. Revisionists argued that Roosevelt pushed Japan toward war in order to involve the U.S. in the larger conflagration in Europe. On the other side, writers “praised the administration for being realistic, consistent, and prescient.” The end of the war, focusing around the use of the atomic bomb against Japan, also developed two schools of thought. The revisionists suggested that the U.S. used the bomb primarily as a political act to demonstrate American power to the Soviet Union. The traditionalists have argued that the bomb was used intelligently to hasten the end of the war.
If the revisionists have not fully proved their cases with respect to 1941 and 1945, it “should by no means imply that all facets of these issues have been fully dealt with or are fully explained.” “This study examines the extent to which U.S. policy makers were predisposed, in 1945, to evaluate events in the Pacific in the light of the recent past,” and to explore any “link between the outbreak and termination of the Pacific War.” Methodologically, it is apparent that decision makers act “in accordance with their perception of reality, not in response to reality itself,” and that the “image of the opponent” is fundamental for understanding behavior in crisis situations.
So-called “global-realists” such as Henry Stimson, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., and Stanley K. Hornbeck were dominant in policy decisions prior to 1941. Failing to see the “dangers of war inherent in their strategy of coercive diplomacy,” they believed the Japanese would yield to a firm, strong pressure. They persisted in this belief in spite of Japanese messages and the warnings of other policy makers such as Joseph Crew, General Lee Gerow, and John Emmerson. The former group consistently, for example, underestimated the Japanese and their military equipment.
When war did come, these men came to regard the Japanese as mad men and fanatics for having gone to war. Ironically, it was this new perception which dominated their thinking as the end of the war approached. Thus, they were often oblivious to a growing amount of evidence that Japan was exhausted, and would not continue a fanatical fight to the finish. But given this new perception of the Japanese as irrational, the use of the bomb to end the war became more logical in their thinking.
From the standpoint of making policy, it is not only important to have different points of view presented, but that an atmosphere be maintained so that those, in effect, playing “the devil's advocate,” feel their views are being taken seriously, rather than being simply ignored.