06 December 2009

Speak Softly and Give Japan a Big Freakin' Stick

Fascinating, fascinating stuff in the NYT regarding Teddy Roosevelt's strong "tilt" toward Japan during the Russo-Japanese War era.

"No human beings, black, yellow or white, could be quite as untruthful, as insincere, as arrogant — in short, as untrustworthy in every way — as the Russians,” he wrote in August 1905, near the end of the Russo-Japanese War. The Japanese, on the other hand, were “a wonderful and civilized people,” Roosevelt wrote, “entitled to stand on an absolute equality with all the other peoples of the civilized world.”

Sounds like ol' Teddy may have not been very deserving of that Nobel Prize given his strong partiality toward one side and the secret deals he cut. I bet he didn't catch as much flak as our latest Nobel-winning prez, either...

Bradley's most controversial claim seems to be that TR deserves at least some of the responsibility for emboldening Japan toward further expansionism going forward by letting them have Korea. I don't really feel qualified to evaluate the claim, but it's an interesting one nonetheless.

1 comment:

  1. Honestly, at the time, I would be tempted to also side with Japan over Russia. Japan was a modern state, modeled on Prussia, which was a rather enlightened modern state, whereas Russia was probably the most repressive feudal state still around.