A reader makes good points: “Derb—[quoting me] ‘The current Chinese constitution, as I have pointed out here before, guarantees every liberty you could wish for. So did the last constitution of the USSR.’ When did the United States military occupy and promulgate political and social reforms in either nation? Never, of course. You have there an inapt analogy to countries whose criminal minorities were never forced out of power and underground.
“As for the Anglo myth, the Japanese, Koreans and Taiwanese were not, at last look, English lads. And Southeast Asians get along fine, despite inconveniently videotaped parliamentary fisticuffs. Be careful that you don’t fall too far into the ‘invention’ fallacy. The automobile and the vaccine were the West’s scientific culminations of centuries; but it is not as if the rest of the world required the same gradual progression to understand, employ and improve upon the concepts. If authoritarian tradition can be extirpated, with or without intervention, a nation can function and prosper democratically.”
[Derb] I’ll go some way with that reader. Of course, no nation’s political culture is set in stone. The Greeks went from self-governing city-states to worshippers of an oriental-style despot (though very cynical worshippers, note); the Romans went from republicanism organized around a loose clan-caste system, to imperial despotism propped up by soldiers (though attachment to the old liberties lingered on for a long time, note). And of course, the Japanese went from a feudal-military state under a god-king to a free nation under constitutional monarchy. We may hope; though surely even my reader will concede that the Muslim Middle East is a very “hard case.”
It is none the less true that WW2 was about considerably more than “knocking off criminal minorities.” Those minorities had an awful lot of popular support (as the “criminal minority” in mainland China still has). That’s why there was a war, very tenaciously fought. And the roots of that support were in deep soil — centuries of tradition, custom, religion, folkways,
Sure, it can be done, and we may hope: but there’s a lot more to it than writing a constitution. “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Is the Muslim ME ready?