tv American Democracy Post- World War II Japan CSPAN April 28, 2019 10:25pm-12:01am EDT
we have to understand that history and value it and interpret it for every generation. that will keep us grounded. it will give us the ability to -- propulsion to go forward and the future is very exciting. [machines beeping] announcer: travel with us to historic sites, museums and archives each sunday at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. eastern on our weekly series, "american artifacts." this is american history tv all weekend on c-span3. >> dartmouth college history professor jennifer miller talks about her book, "cold war democracy: the united states and japan." she discusses how the u.s. government promoted democracy in post-world war ii japan through psychological campaigns meant to win over the populace. the wilson center and national history center cohosted this 90 minute event.
christian: all right. i think we will get started. it is 4:00 on a monday afternoon, which means it is time for the washington history seminar. welcome, everyone to the wilson center. welcome to this installment of the washington history seminar. i am christian ostermann, and i have the privilege of co-chairing the seminar with professor erik arnison from george washington university. i am delighted to see so many of you here on this beautiful afternoon. we will have c-span taping the event today, so welcome to all of those who are viewing us at home. i suggest that you visit our website to learn more about the seminar and upcoming speakers.
both the national history center and the wilson center website has information on the series. the washington history seminar is a collaborative effort of two organizations, the wilson center'ss history and public -- wilson center's history and public policy program and the natural history center of the american historical association directed by professor dane kennedy, who joins us here as well. we are currently in our ninth year of holding these sessions, which run weekly during the seminar. we would like to thank our sponsors, the lepage center for history in the public interest at villanova university, and george washington university's history department, as well as a number of individual donors, most of them anonymous, some of them i know are here. we always appreciate the nation's contributions to the cause.
we run this effort on a shoestring budget, and as a service to the washington community. details on how to donate and on future programming are on the back of the flyer that was available outside. let me also thank a couple of individuals who behind-the-scenes kind of put this event together. jeff rieger, assistant director of the natural history center, where are you? over there. and on my team, two interns, who you will be meeting during the q&a. they will be running the mics, for which we ask you to please wait, and then, once you are called on to the stage, give your name and affiliation. let me welcome, finally, the founding co-chair of the seminar series, professor william roger
lewis of texas who is joining us here today. and remind all of you, finally to turn off your mobile devices , or silence of them so you don't interrupt the intense discussion that we will be having here this afternoon. with that, i turn it over to eric to introduce our future speaker today. eric: thank you, christian. welcome everyone on this fine afternoon. it is my distinct pleasure to introduce our speaker, jennifer miller, assistant office of -- professor of history at dartmouth college. she received her ma and phd from the university of wisconsin, madison, and her ba from wesleyan university. she is a scholar of u.s. east -- she is a scholar of u.s.-east asian relations and author of "let's not be left at anymore: donald trump and japan come up the 1980's to the present,"
which appeared in the journal of american east asian relations in 2013. she will be presenting on her new book "cold war democracy: , the united states and japan," which has just been published. with that, jennifer miller. [applause] prof. miller: thank you so much. i'm really thrilled to be here. and everybody hear me ok? ok. i will get started. historians and commentators have long debated the place of democracy in american foreign policy. our u.s. actions across the globe motivated by democratic ideals, intentions, or both, or are american claims about the importance of democracy simply an empty, rhetorical facade?
a mask to disguise the united states' true motivations of imperial domination? within this debate, one of the most cited, if not the most frequently cited case studies is the relationship between the united states and japan. in the aftermath of world war ii the united states occupied and radically transformed japan under the stated goal of democratization. the occupation authorities wrote a new constitution, they held elections, they reformed the japanese education system, empowered labor unions, among a bevy of other reforms. politicians and policymakers have cited japan as a prominent example of the united states democratic intentions and capabilities. of its commitment to spreading democracy. perhaps most famously in the run-up to the invasion of iraq, president george w. bush repeatedly pointed to japan as an example of the united state'' ability to transform and democratize foreign states and peoples. yet others have pushed back forcefully on this claim.
scholars have highlighted the agency and vitality of the japanese people rather than american policymakers in shaping postwar japanese democracy. they pointed to the later years of the u.s. occupation, when u.s. policy became obsessed with anti-communism due in part to the development of the cold war. in parallel with developments in the united states, the occupation began to prevent labor strikes, purge labor activists and alleged communists. it censored communist newspapers and crafted anti-subversive laws. it collaborated with former members of the wartime japanese government and rebuilt japanese military power, with the goal of creating a firm, security alliance with the united states and japan. this leaves us with a question, how should we understand the place of democracy in this story? i want to take a slightly different approach to this debate. i want to argue that the united states, and that american
policymakers did care about democracy in postwar japan, even after the start of the cold war. but not necessarily in the way that many people think. indeed, i think both sides of this discussion often miss the critical point, that the meaning of democracy has changed over time, and that in this moment, it was in the process of being redefined by the earth-shattering events of the 1930's and the 1940's. namely, global depression world , war ii, and the rise of the cold war. in my book, entitled "cold war democracy: the united states and japan," which i don't have to hold up, it has a ready been displayed, i argue that world war ii and especially the early cold war sparked the emergence of a specific definition of democracy. the belief that democracy was a mental and psychological system. politicians, scholars,
policymakers, military leaders routinely claimed that democracy was not just based on political rights, specific political practices, for representative institutions. after all, prewar germany and japan had elections. they had parliaments. and that it not prevent the rise of nazism for militarism. after world war ii to take root and endure, many believed that democracy acquired what one politician called "a state of mind." or what they often called a democratic spirit. it required rationality, self-confidence, public resolve. a real democracy, these advocates claimed, was one in which the people were spiritually, mentally, and psychologically strong. even as the strength came at the expense of other rights and freedoms. as i argue in my book, this conception of democracy was
crucial to the occupation of japan and the alliance that followed. it shaped american policy and also it shaped japanese reaction to the policy, especially protest. in particular, and this is what i will discuss today, it was a vital context of occupation, the decision to end japan's demilitarization and begin rebuilding japanese military capabilities. my talk will have two parts. i want to explain the origins and key features of this understanding of democracy, and second, i want to show how this idea about democracy shaped japanese government. -- rearmament. i hope this story allows us to have a more accurate and deeper understanding of the impact and consequences of democratic ideologies in shaping u.s. engagement with the wider world, at least in the aftermath of world war ii.
let me begin by talking about the occupation of japan and american thinking about democracy in the aftermath of the war. when world war ii formally ended in september of 1945, and the united states embarked on the occupation of japan, american leaders had assigned themselves a lofty goal, to fundamentally transform and democratize japan. they believed that after japan was democratic, it would no longer seek to wage aggressive war. it would be more engaged with the international system. states like that would not seek to tear the international system down through war. from the beginning, the occupation authorities believed that democratizing japan was not simply about building new structures or political practices, even though they were vital. it was also about building new mentalities, a new consciousness. for example, as the secretary of
state james burns declared upon japan's official surrender, "we come to the second phase of our war against japan, what might be called the spiritual disarmament of the people of that nation. to make them want peace instead of wanting war." at its heart, the goal of the occupation was to change the wants and desires of the japanese people. where did this belief come from? for many americans working in japan, and here i am talking about diplomats, scholars involved in the wartime planning process, the occupation authorities, most came from the military. this belief emerged in part from their understanding of japan's militarism and the reasons japan had pursued war in the first place. during the war, american policymakers who had been tasked with planning for the postwar occupation spent countless meetings discussing the nature of japan's prewar political
system and the reason japan had pursued war. many of them argued that japanese militarism had drawn its unique power from the mental weaknesses of the people. this was, in part, a very racialized way of thinking. they claimed there was something unique about the japanese psychology, that the japanese were overly emotional and irrational. the most famous example of this attributes japanese militarism to overly aggressive toilet training. that is the most infamous example. but they argued the japanese leaders had preyed on this infantile japanese psychology. that they had deceived the japanese people with false promises of glory to control the japanese mind. now, according to this line of thinking, it followed that only a rigorous education in democracy could destroy the roots of japanese aggression. so through practices like
national and local voting, the censorship and purging of militarist ideas and people, rights such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and especially, freedom of thought, the occupation would liberate the japanese mind. its goal was to foster rational, self-aware democratic subjects capable of internalizing and acting upon key rights and distinction between democratic and antidemocratic ideas and practices. during the occupation, these policies initially focused on japanese -- combating japanese militarism which americans , thought was responsible for the war. however by the late american 1940's, policymakers both in the united states working in the state department and the occupation authorities in japan increasingly feared that displacing militarism was not enough to secure a healthy and rational democratic regime. they became more anxious that
communism was becoming a global threat to the democratic mind. like the one type militarist regime, calm-ism would poison the public mind through propaganda and false promises. -- communism would poison the public mind. indeed, the american panic about communism in japan and elsewhere was not simply due to the military might of the soviet union. stemmed anxiety also from the belief that communism was a psychological threat to the rational and healthy mentalities that were necessary for democracy. and that communism could come to power if the people were weak and feeble minded. a bevy of speeches and government memos proclaimed that a commitment to communism was not simply a political or economic act, not simply a political choice. it was an act of psychological perversion. perhaps most famous was the
1950's national security council document known as nsc. 68, which declared that communism necessitated "an act of willing submission, a degradation willed by the individual upon himself under the compulsion of a perverted face." communism, therefore, required a complete eschewal of the individualism necessary to democracy. this was a submission that would come out of mental weakness, of mental vulnerability. moreover, this anxiety was so strong because many people feared that communism was perfectly positioned to destroy democracy from within. communists, many believed, operated through the spreading of lies, misinformation, propaganda, fake news as we call it today, to dominate and control the mind of the people, leading them to choose their own enslavement through
psychological domination. democratic societies were especially vulnerable to communists aversion precisely subversioncommunist precisely because these ideas could be disseminated through free speech, a free press, or free elections. this is an example after the start of the korean war when the japanese communist party newspaper published a photograph celebrating north korea. it was shut down by the japanese police and occupation authorities. for democracy to survive then, the presence of elections or the constitution was not enough. for democratic rights and practices to endure democracy required a psychologically strong citizenry that is capable of being vigilant about protecting democratic values and distinguishing between healthy and harmful ideologies. this conceptualization of democracy led to ironic and
unexpected outcomes. in both the united states and japan, proponents of this world view often claimed that the only way to achieve this mental strength was through rigid and harsh, often anti-democratic practices such as loyalty oaths, censorship, political purges, anti-subversive laws. this dialectic process whereby an obsession with democratic qualities, an obsession with an ill-defined democratic mind and spirit fueled an almost anti-democratic democracy. that process stands at the heart of what my book calls "cold war democracy." such ideas were widespread among american elites. in the late 1940's and 1950's, they also became prominent among occupation authorities in japan. to give one example in may of , 1950, general douglas macarthur -- there he is with
his massive pipe -- who was the head of the occupational authorities, gave a speech to mark the three year anniversary of the postwar constitution, constitutiona written by the occupation authorities as a cornerstone of japanese democracy. but macarthur also used the occasion to warn that japan faced a serious threat. one can to the militaristic wartime regime. he drew a clear continuity between the wartime threat of japanese militarism and the threat of postwar communism, when he declared that japan was again under siege by "a small minority which through the pervasive use of liberty and privilege seeks to encompass freedom's destruction." macarthur cautioned that the triumph of communism and was imminent if the majority remained passive and complacent. communists, he declared, were
waging an unlimited attack on individual freedom, using disinformation and confusion to control the people's psyche. any thought that the japanese communism would lead to anything under than oppression was "thoroughly disabused by the communist embarkation on the spread of false, malicious and inflammatory propaganda intended to mislead and coerce the public mind. so this was the essence of cold war democracy. the belief that democratic politics was dependent on psychological strength, an idea that was often expressed in terms of saying that you needed confidence, morale, popular resolve, spirit is another word they used, the democratic spirit. equally important was the belief that democracy required constant vigilance against a nefarious enemy and might even require the
limiting of political rights or free expression, or dependence on undemocratic or even anti-democratic people, practices, and institutions. all this might sound a bit abstract. now, i want to move on to part two of this talk and give an example of how this conceptualization of democracy actually shape u.s. policy in japan. the example i want to talk about was one of the most controversial moments of u.s. occupation, the united states decision to rearm japan. the korean war began when north korea invaded south korea. this was very shocking and very scary to many, including u.s. policymakers who feared that northeast asia was under imminent threat of communist domination. that japan would be left alone in northeast asia. with u.s. soldiers leaving
occupied japan, the u.s. occupation authorities ordered the japanese government to create a defensive force called the national police reserve, the npr. it would go through several different iterations but it was the foundation of japan's current military, now called the self-defense force. i stated that this is a very controversial decision. what was so controversial about it? one thing was that the creation of the npr seemed to counter the foundational object of the u.s. democratization efforts. throughout the war, american policymakers had repeatedly and openly blamed japan's military leaders and japanese militarism, more broadly for causing world war ii in the pacific. some of the most documents that laid out the goals of the occupation, like the potsdam declaration, declared that the militarists had misled the japanese people. they were the guys to blame. during the first few years of the occupation, the occupational
authorities completely demobilized and dismantled japan's imperial military. they ordered the japanese government, governed through the japanese government, they order the japanese government to undertake large-scale purges to remove militarists and military leaders and officers from public life. militaristic and nationalistic symbols were censored and banned. an international tribunal tried key military leaders, sentencing some of them to death. the new constitution was drafted by the occupational authorities and formally banned offensive military power. article nine declare that air, land and sea forces would never be maintained. essentially the entire occupation was premised on the idea that building a democratic japan required the total eschewal of military power. many japanese embraced this idea, declaring japan will be a new model of pacifism.
so the decision to create an npr seemed like a radical break. to many people at the time, especially to the members of the japanese left, this decision was a huge betrayal. it represented the united states dropping its earlier commitment to a democratic japan. these actors criticized the united states as blinded by its fear of communism. that in their hysteria, american policymakers sought to empower the very militarists forces that had led japan into a disastrous war. i want to be clear. the npr was a major change in policy, unthinkable in 1945. but what i want to argue today is that this decision was not simply a departure from earlier thinking about democracy. rather, it was a product of the way that many american policymakers and the occupation authorities had understood
democracy, as the product of mental strength, vigilance, spirit as much as institutions, practices and rights. indeed, the occupation authorities did not simply hope that npr would enhance japan's defensive capabilities, though that was key to its creation. they also hoped it could produce the responsible, mentally strong citizens and leaders necessary to building an ideologically and psychologically secure democracy. they declared that military training combined with sort of a broader public awareness of japan's ability to defend itself would foster the confidence, the resilience, the morale necessary to resisting communism and its constant assault on the minds and souls of the people. this mental strength, they believed, would be the core of
this democratic spirit that was so necessary to make sure democracy could endure. this belief that military power, military capabilities, could help foster the right psychology was evident even in the earliest month of the npr. the npr's origins lay in a letter that general mcarthur sent to the japanese prime minister in july 8, 1950, a few weeks after the korean war. the letter ordered him to create a new internal security force in japan which of the called the national police reserve. macarthur declared that the new force would not only defend japan from foreign threats but it would also "safeguard the public welfare by preventing subversion by lawless minorities," a clear reference to communist subversion.
equally important, the macarthur and others claimed that the npr could also guard against democracy's psychological vulnerabilities to communist ideas and forces. it started in september, 1950. only a few month after the npr was created. the shock of the korean war had "raised questions about the psychological attitudes of the japanese people." unless the japanese people had some sense of continued security, the united states warned, it would be natural to expect a growth of a sense of futility of resistance to comunism. so the npr was meant to make the japanese people feel secure. such ideas also shapped efforts to recruit both soldiers and officers to the npr. for example, npr recruitment posters and advertisements presented npr as an opportunity to become a responsible citizen, to fulfill democratic duties.
posters showed npr members with images designed to have a democratic valence such as a dove, or standing in front of the diet building. they emphasized active participation in a peaceful and democratic order, which you can see here. u.s. officers who participated in npr training, i apologize for this picture, it is very hard to find pictures of u.s. and -- u.s. military trainers in the npr unless you go to the national archives, so this is a picture actually from an article about the npr in the saturday evening post in 1952. the u.s. officers who participated in the training emphasized that it would simultaneously secure japanese to parker see while enhancing japan's psychological strength and physical strength against communism. a senior u.s. military advisor declared in a speech to and that
-- to npr recruits that the npr would ensure that the rights guaranteed to each and every japanese citizen under japan's new constitution remained. and that the npr would renew the confidence in your nation's security and ability to defend itself against internal sabotage, revolution, and lawless depredation. yet both american military trainers and the npr's japanese staff soon came to fear that the npr may not be able to fulfill this lofty role. in particular, they weren't -- worried constantly about the quality of npr personnel. the npr's first commander lamented the npr's lack of military spirit. a former imperial army general who was still friends with the prime minister described the early npr as an undisciplined mob.
oral histories from early service members in the npr recall the yakuza, japanese gangsters, had joined the npr. americans and japanese believed that such inferior personnel, which was the language they use, was a problem not only because they might not have technical -- tactical skills the skills , necessary to safeguard japan; so-called inferior personnel would leave the npr and japan more broadly open to communist infiltration. one american advisor bemoaned that the low recruitment standards meant "we will only get the jobless and probably uneducated type of no professional standards who are wide open to subversive influences." it was essential, another advisor claimed, that commanders and staff from the lowest to the highest have the moral and patriotic stamina to resist communism and become a real force for law and order. now these fears led both
american and japanese to seek new solutions, particularly by seeking to improve the npr's leadership, what would be known as officers. the npr had police titles like constables, things like that. but they were essentially officers. good officers, they believed, could impose the discipline and stamina and morale necessary to building a strong military force that could resist communism, could make the japanese feel secure. good officers would inspire members of the npr. but where to recruit such officers? the purges of the early occupation had been far-reaching. anybody above the rank of captain, anyone who had graduated from japan's military academies were banned from participating in public life. this meant they could not join the npr, which severely limited pool of potential officers.
therefore in 1951, the occupation authorities changed the purge terms to what they call depurging, to free the experienced military personnel as a solution to these fears about the npr's tactical and psychological weaknesses. the americas supervisors of the npr now again to claim that only former soldiers who had the discipline and commitment of the wartime japanese military could supply the experience, leadership, and psychological and spiritual strength necessary to the npr. the main american military advisor was a man named frank kowalski. he recalled in his memoir that purged officers "possessed much they could give to the new force, military competence, strength of character, devotion to country." i want to note that it is not just their military skills that
kowalski is seeking and admiring. more than any soldier, the japanese imperial army soldier had military spirit. spirit, heart, guts, whatever anyone called it, the essence of a fighting force. this was a dramatic reversal. five years before, these officers were described by americans as the psychological cause of japanese militarism and the main enemy of democracy. and now they were seen as a potential source of spirit, and devotion and resolve, so necessary to not just resisting communism but building democracy. by these beliefs were even 1951, shared by the general matthew ridgway, who had replaced douglas macarthur as the head of occupational authorities after macarthur was fired by harry truman. and they led him to make a shift in occupation policy. specifically, ridgeway intervened, over the objection of some in the state department, to change the terms of the purge
so that imperial army veterans could join the npr has officers. -- join the npr as officers. writing in june of 1951, ridgway argued that men who had graduated from japan's military academies after 1937, and 1937 is the date when japan invaded all of china. when the sino-japanese war spread more broadly into all of china. that these men should be allowed to join the npr. ridgway's reasoning was especially interesting. he claimed that these experienced officers should be eligible because they had only provided "the service which a man owes his country in a time of war." they were "motivated by normal patriotism." such claims amounted to a major rewriting of japan's recent history.
rather than blaming the military and militarism as the cause of world war ii, ridgeway recast the nature of wartime military service. it was not, he said, the product of totalitarian mobilization. it was not the product of a state that dominated and instead, these men's actions had stemmed from civic responsibility, patriotism and national devotion. from a healthy and normal psychology. the use of the word normal is very interesting. the exact qualities desired by the npr. ridgway changed the purge terms. this opened access to a larger pool of manpower. we can see how the emphasis on the npr is a source of
psychological and spiritual mobilization. it led to surprising outcomes. it fostered a growing convergence between u.s. military officials and former members of the japanese military. many of them were sending all sorts of memos and reports behind-the-scenes to the u.s. occupation authorities. they declared that the npr was nothing compared to the imperial japanese army and it needed the spirit. these ideas would form a new military force. to conclude, what did we learn from the story? it shows that democracy itself has a history.
it does not mean the same thing in every time and place. the values that people ascribe to a successful democracy are a product of context and that can change with that context. if we want to assess the impact of democratic visions or ideas on the conduct of policy, we should not celebrate those who promoted democracy and condemn those who did not, we should pay close attention to the specific hopes and fears that people invested in democracy. we have to think critically about these ideas. what are the policies that they enabled and what policies did they prevent? secondly, and more specific to the time discussed, i hope this story allows us to better grasp
how people understood politics during the early cold war. it shows how spiritual ideas were help american leaders understood democracy. this can help us understand how rigid and limited this taking was. it was obsessed with subversion and infiltration. it was not interested in what the japanese public wanted. all of this is happening under military occupation. it led to an obsession with they and immeasurable qualities, intangible qualities like mind and spirit. over and against the expansion of rights and equality. this led u.s. policymakers to empower a hierarchal and dangerous institution, the military. in order to protect democracy. at least that is what they were claiming they were doing.
if there is a lesson, it is exactly that, that the promise to promote democracy abroad, even if it is sincere often has strange and unintended consequences. thank you. [applause] >> thank you for this very stimulating talk. let me start the discussion with some initial questions. one is, since you're here with a focus on archives and new documentation, could you talk a little bit about what archives, documents and sources you consulted for your book? could you talk a little bit about japanese sources? could you give us an update?
prof. miller: thank you, i will talk about sources. the talk that i gave was drawn from two chapters of the book. the second chapter is about the creation of the npr. for these, i used a great deal of american sources. the wartime planning documents for the occupation are very underutilized and a historical source. these are extensive discussions. i used a series of occupation documents. especially the papers of what was called government section. there are these structures that paralleled various responsibilities of the japanese government. there was a government section and an economic and scientific section. i focused on the work of government section. it supervised things like elections. what i was struck by as i was working on this was how similar -- this is from the first
chapter i was writing about the occupation. tracing thinking about militarism and cold war thinking about communism. that was very striking to me. i traced this cold war document that goes into an extensive discussion of the psychological nature of communism, the free world and that communism has a short-term advantage. it doesn't require the difficulty of individualism. also, all of these things about controlling the mind. two months later, macarthur gives that speech. he is talking in the same terms, that this is a psychological threat. i also used some sort of domestic american sources in terms of newspaper coverage, documentation from the state department not related to japan to get at that larger
atmosphere. that first chapter focused on tracing american thinking. the second chapter on the npr, i used both american and japanese sources. on the american side, the papers of the npr are of american training of the npr. they are quite scattered in a bunch of different places. there are five boxes here in the national archives, five boxes there, i pieced all that together. on the japanese side, there is less postwar npr archive of material available. i went and spoke to some researchers but was not able to get much in the way of archival too real. what they have is a wonderful oral history program.
they sent me more oral history than i could ever read. i managed to read some, that was a good resource i utilized to write that chapter. what am i arguing against? your second question. i am arguing against a couple of things. there is this one story of the u.s. and japanese relationship and it is called reverse course. the u.s. genuinely cared about occupation and democracy and then they can about communism and they stopped caring about democracy and only care about anti-communism. i'm not arguing against the idea that there was change in policy in the occupation. there were labor strikes that were not allowed in action 48. there were things like the creation of the npr. that is one of the biggest examples. what i'm arguing for is the idea is that there are not continuities across the two halves of the occupation.
to say there is no continuities is an overstatement. i was struck by how much of a turn against communism in the later part of the occupation was facilitated to the early occupation. they can purge communists because they were using the same policies that purged militarists. toy could apply censorship communist newspapers because there had been so much militarism.f the other thing i wanted to do was -- i think japan is often treated in isolation or in a bilateral contact. i am somewhat guilty of this. i was struck by how many parallels they were between what is going on in japan and the
united states at the same time. for example, in this chapter that i talked about, i talk about the npr but it is in the context of the american efforts to impose military training in the late 1940's. also, harry truman's claim that this would be a school of republican alleys and democracy in the united states. similarly, i wrote about anti-subversive laws in the united states or japan. the policymakers and bureaucrats that were working with the occupation authorities to draft these were looking at the anti-subversive laws like the mccarran act that was being written in the united states. they were also looking at once written in australia. i want to take more fully about the concept of the national security state were anti-communism that is crossing boundaries in this time period. to go back to the historical context, i don't know if i am contextualizing it where if i am just a deepening our understanding of this moment in the u.s.-japanese relationship.
and pushed back on the idea that democracy did not matter in this relationship. this book traces and follow it all the way up to the 1960's and it looks at issues like the transition from world war ii to the cold war. he looks at the creation of the npr. it also looks at how japanese ideas about democracy shaped this. there are two chapters about anti-base contests. trying to trace the strange career of democratic ideology in this relationship.
dir. ostermann: i know eric will have a question or two in a minute. let me ask you for those of us, especially the audience out there, we may not be familiar with 68. talk a little bit about 68 and then over to eric. prof. miller: this is probably my favorite government document to teach. this was a statement drafted by the national security council in late 1949 and early 1950. it was drafted because two things have happened. the soviet union successfully tested an atomic bomb and the chinese communists had been successful in their revolution. they established the people's republic of china. in the eyes of american policymakers, these are very bad things. they draft 68, that is laying out national security strategy. when it is mentioned in a
history textbook, it is mentioned because of this recommended overarching military buildup and not allowing communism to happen anywhere. it is usually discussed and articulated in this very global version of american military containment. it is like 68 pages long. justdidn't need 68 pages to say that. it also has these detailed discussions of how they see the national security council. also, the american that world order. this is called a contrast between the free world and the
slave world and they talk about how in the communist world people seek refuge in communism because of insecurities. also, that communism has the short-term advantage because it doesn't have to build consensus. it can tell the people what to do. they argue that ultimately, mankind costs psychological inclination is to seek freedom. ultimately, men can only find that in the free world. they believe the free world can win out in the long term because it fulfills man's natural desire for freedom. for ntse, there is a relationship between this psychological divided world, these two different projects, is labeled and the free world. when he recommends this, he says the competence of the free world will be crucial to winning this long and drawn out battle.
on the one level, nsc 68 is a recommendation for a large military buildup but it is also a discussion of the inner psychological workings of the cold war. prof. arnesen: let me introduce another question that builds on what you said but takes it in a different direction. this is a two-part related question. the first has to do with your language about the threat. you talk about the american panic over communism, hysteria and anxiety over communism. those words, panic, hysteria, anxiety, that indicates that this is more about americans -- this being a figment of american imagination. it was not real. i will you to talk about that. how real a threat was it in your theirs? there is one
example that you briefly touch upon. it is shortly after the end of the occupation on may 1 of 1952. this is the bloody mayday right that racks tokyo and other parts of the country. you write that the end of the occupation was a moment of mixed emotions. a missed opportunity to build a truly independent and democratic japan. one of the people present that day was norman thomas. he was supposed to give a speech and then not allowed to give a speech. a longtime head of the american socialist party. a critic of american foreign policy. in his postmortem, this boils down to the communist control of the crowd, the communist control of trade unions. in his mind, this was a very real threat.
as an inveterate socialist, he did not like communists very much. the backdrop -- the counterpart to the limited vision of democracy is the japanese left or japanese citizenry that don't like bases or the treaty, this or that. at one point, we talk about the government efforts to quell the antiauthoritarian vision of democratic politics. norman thomas did not see this. granted, there is a wide spectrum on the left but the communist part of the left, i think one would be hard-pressed to argue that it did not embrace a fully democratic japan.
they put forward an antiauthoritarian vision there. are communists included in the spectrum you're talking about? if so, how do you apply these terms, anti-authoritarianism to what we would all probably agree is a pretty authoritarian movement? prof. miller: that is excellent. you talk about the letter was of the threat. is this something real or a figment of american imaginations? i think there were very few if no moments where occupied japan was threatened by a communist revolution. not in the least because there was american troops stationed throughout the country. i think people that within the japanese government have a frame of mind that they believe the threat was real. this is particularly true --
in 1948, 49 and early 1950. i talk about the long, hot summer of 1949. there were all of these seemingly sinister things happening in tokyo. all of these train accidents, someone found dead, the president of the national railways is found dead by the tracks. people think that there is something sinister in the air and people think there is something that is going to happen. the japanese communist movement was targeting institutions like the npr. it was acting very aggressively against u.s military bases. i find it hard to believe that it would have been successful. that said, both americans and japanese were very concerned about it. when the npr is created, japan's
prime minister was asking for these capabilities for years to read he sent letters to macarthur. he was very anti-communist. he sent these letters to macarthur. he said you guys have centralized all of the police in the early occupation but that doesn't cut it anymore against communism. they believed it was a threat. i have to maintain my historical distance. if they believed it was a threat, i have to take that seriously. in terms of the bloody mayday right and questions about the japanese communist party, the japanese communist party goes through a lot of phases. this is between 1945 and 1955. the japanese left goes through a lot of phases. after the war, the japanese communist party says they will participate in politics.
they talk about how they are not getting done what they want to get done through politics. they said they will do more demonstrations and extralegal things. that is in the dialectic with the u.s. occupation authorities increasingly cracking down on things like labor strikes and stuff like that. in the late 1940's, there is the anti-communist purge of the occupation. this is done in the media and the labor unions. the same thing is happening in the united states. especially with the start of the korean war, the japanese communist party starts to go underground. a lot of people leave japan and go to china because the crackdowns are so aggressive. throughout the 1950's, the communist party is increasingly marginalized in the leftist groups. it doesn't mean the communist party is not there, being a major actor. there is a lot that is left that
is acting outside of the party. >> we will open it up for your comments and questions. please wait for the microphone. we will start up here. >> thank you very much. i am a retired diplomat. benjamin: clearly, the postwar occupation and development of japan in the years since has been a remarkable success. that said, i was struck by the extreme self-serving nature of the rhetoric and language used to justify particular policies at different times. sometimes 180 degrees different from each other.
secondly, the success of the occupation was due to enlightened u.s. leadership in the military and diplomatic service and so on. but it also had a lot to do with japanese motivations. they had lost a war, they had to act in a way to preserve as much of their culture and institutions, including the emperor. to do this, they had to play ball. i would like you to comment on couple of the photos you showed. the first is the voting photo. we can't tell whether the person is voting or registering to vote, but if he was voting, it is unusual to have soldiers
overlooking it. the second one was the article by william worden. it was in the saturday evening post where he says men are combat hardened in war against us. he says can these tough little japs bring new hope to that lost continent? could you give some background for that kind of rhetoric and so on? prof. miller: thank you for your question. the self-serving nature of the language and the rhetoric used to justify policies. a crucial background is the occupation authorities, i am speaking of them as a joint unit. of course, there were hundreds of people involved in this that had very different ideas. some of them were new dealers. some of them admired general franco.
there was a huge range of people involved in the occupation authority. i am conflating them. one thing about the self-serving rhetoric is the united states believed -- this goes back to my discussion of nsc 68. in the occupation, what they were doing was they were allowing the japanese to realize their universal and natural human desire for freedom. if that makes sense. they thought what they were bringing to japan was universal. they thought this would liberate them psychologically.
even as the occupation took this firm turn against communism. they believed that so strongly even as they continued to use this rhetoric. i am an historian that believes rhetoric really matters. also, the way that policymakers choose to talk about what they are doing and present what they are doing to a public and private audience really matters. what is interesting is even in these later years of the occupation, or is some synergy between the public and private discussion of these policies. it is not like they are saying we have to do this to defend democracy. they are not doing it to the public and then privately saying that this does not matter. they genuinely believe democracy is under threat from communism. we can dispute if that was actually true.
i think that this does come back to the exception of american power they have in 1945. that it is a truly liberating force. in terms of thinking about some of these photos i have used, you're right to point out that the first photo is somewhat odd. i think it also captures the foundational contradiction of the occupation. it is that they are claiming to liberate military occupation. ahad to look quite a bit for photo that had american soliders in it. i did have to do a little searching but i did not have to look that hard. this is from getty. in terms of the article, what is fascinating is this is not the only article like this. there is another one in this life magazine in 1951 that is like it, it celebrates the creation of the npr. the npr did not call themselves
soldiers and they did not have military titles. it was not a force that was allowed to be overseas. at the time, they talked about it as an internal security force. that is what it was designed to be. american policy makers always talked about it as the core of the military. that is not what it ever fully became. it is interesting to see the npr through american eyes. the language in it is very striking. "these little japs could bring new hope to that lost continent." another thing i talk about in the book in this chapter we can think about the npr and context of is this is when the united states is turning to military assistance in the late 1940's. it is sending all sorts of military aid to france, italy, germany, places like that.
they talk about it in the same terms they talk about it in the npr. to the point where there are these hearings before congress and they say things like, we should give them heavy equipment. but let's give them small arms. because when people hold small arms, they feel the will of resistance. with these new military aides we are giving them, people have hope. granted they are performing for congress, they want more money. but the language extends beyond japan. christian: there are several questions. if at somet mind, point you could comment a little genderedcialized, discourses staring at you from this quote. prof. miller: especially with the use of the word japs. christian: and how that impacts your use of democracy. right there. >> jennifer, thank you for a fantastic presentation. >> introduce yourself.
>> wilson center. to what extent were you able to find where the japanese officers and recruits, or to what extent did they engage with or internalize or deal with this notion of defending democracy? and this notion of them being a continuation of occupation ideals, or not? did they see themselves as a rejection of early occupation ideals? prof. miller: i think that is a great question. thank you. to the extent that i was able to see this, it varied a little bit. you asked, to what extent did they see themselves as defending democracy? at least some of the higher ranking officers of the npr who are writing things like studies about the purgees coming into the npr.
they talk about it as if they are engaging this idea that they believe this is what the npr can do. certainly i think there was a fair amount of belief that japan needed new military forces for internal security. things like that. on the other hand, when you read some of these early oral histories, a lot of them comment on how condescending and dismissive the american military advisers were. that is not surprising. i read other documents that were reports of other american military advisers reporting on npr camps and they were very condescending and dismissive. it is not surprising that is how the japanese felt. so i am sure to some members, this was a farcical exercise in this claim that they are internalizing this great occupation era commitment to democracy. but they are being treated by these american military trainers as if they know nothing, as if they are children, is if they do not know how to do anything. i know this is an unsatisfying
answer, but from the documentation that i saw, it varied quite a bit. and some of the documentation i had with things like npr members writing for an american audience. and so my guess would be in those situations, i'm thinking specifically of this one document that is about a study that is written of how they will depurged officers into the npr and what will be the standards to do that, very much saying the npr is the product of a democratic japan and that needs to be sustained. but there is an element of the fact that they are writing that for an american audience. christian: thank you. all the way in the back? >> hi. christopher gray. i would like to follow up what christian was urging on you. i would like to say, i have a father who was drafted during korea and two of his brothers, one of them served in the army
of occupation for 1947 to 1949 and the other fought in korea. would you comment in relation to the two great historians who wrote three great books, john dower's two books, his book on the occupation in 1999, and dale hilliker's wrote a great book which you can get for $10, it is worth $60. i urge it on you. his book "we the japanese people" which shows how those low-level american bureaucrats wrote the japanese constitution. i think you are right on the continuity section. on the races which i think dower overemphasized in his 1986 book, but the 1999 book, there was a sense of humor, the ironies involved. how does this relate to your work? have you modified what they have written? prof. miller: thank you for your question.
first to talk about the racialized and gendered discourse of all of this. there is certainly a heavily racialized discourse at work here based especially on how american policymakers understood the failures of prewar japan. they sort of toggled back and forth between this more universal explanation about weak japanese institutions and the japanese not having the consciousness of democracy, and these very racialized understandings that i mentioned in the talk of the japanese have having a uniquely infantile psychology. explanations of japanese culture, some of this. one explanation said that it was rooted in the japanese family which demands total submission to the father. this is part of why one of the things they focused on was giving women the right to vote. so that was always there. at the same time, they were
understanding some aspects of the occupation as i pointed out in a larger discourse of how people talk about democracy in this moment. so i think there is something about the way they understood japan in this very racialized way and especially the japanese psychology in this very racialized way that gave these ideas even more salience in japan. that seemed to give them more explanatory power. on the other hand, it is sort of interesting, and i struggled with this writing the book because they do believe these very racist ideas about the japanese, but they also believed some sort of change is possible. in japan. right? part of this is their faith in american power, part of this is faith in the ability of democracy, but they do believe that some kind of change is possible. they think it will take a long time. there are documents from the end of the occupation where they are saying the occupation is ending,
the japanese are not there yet, we will need to stay around longer, we will need to keep a heavy american presence to make sure they get there eventually but they do believe the japanese are changed. this is of course also very gendered. the npr is a male institution. and as i mentioned, a lot of these ideas are also being expressed about the possibility of universal military training within the united states which is also a very male institution. there is definitely this idea that responsible citizenship , that is a male area, and that is what men are going to do. so the whole thing is premised on almost the total issue of women or their belief that women do not have a strong role to play in the public sphere. in terms of thinking about dower and hellinger, all of whom i
have read, i don't necessarily see myself as countering dower so much. "embracing defeat" is a really wonderfully textured book that examines so many different aspects of japanese reactions to the occupation. his argument is that it was possible because of the way the japanese embraced defeat. but one thing i found in a lot of this reading, and hellinger i s the exception, and i used that book heavily when i wrote about the japanese constitution. there is not that much unpacking of what they meant when they talked about democracy. i was actually kind of surprised in that sense. there was talk about yeah, you need to have voting, elections, parliaments. that was what i was going to write. then when i started looking at my sources, i was struck by how often they talked about confidence, morale, resolve. maybe there is something more at work. i don't see myself as countering his work at all.
just adding aspects of it that he did not fully spell out and he might -- would probably disagree with me on because he was asking different questions than i was. the hellinger book is different, and i found it especially helpful, especially the various drafts of the constitution that the occupation authorities wrote. data book has these appendixes that have different drafts of the constitution. i was struck by the language that was in some of these drafts. for example, one of the drafts talks about how democracy is like -- i can't remember the language, this age-old practice, conferred and can only be sustained through the constant vigilance of the people. this idea of vigilance was so important, they wanted to write it into the constitution. i found that a fascinating reveal of some of the thinking about the occupation. christian: thank you. marvin? in the back? >> thank you. marvin ott, wilson center.
just a quick broader note, three sinocized cultures in taiwan, republic of korea, and japan, with no tradition historically of democracy, and nevertheless, transitioned into functioning, stable, rooted parliamentary competitive democratic systems. and it just strikes me as something of a cultural determinist or something really important going on here. then on the cultural theme, just a minor question, but your repeated references to spirit and related notions of psychic strength, i am wondering whether that in fact echoed something fundamental in japanese culture? appropriate, that bushido, whatever, the
notion of psychic, mental resilience and strength was actually very fundamental to the cultural ground the occupation authority was working in? prof. miller: thank you for your question. i will start with the second one. did this echoes something fundamental in japanese culture? i would be hesitant to say that. but what is interesting is how much it echoed elements of japanese governing ideology in the 1930's. which in 1925, japan had passed this law called the peace preservation law which was about cracking down on communism. one of the things that japanese governing ideology and leaders thought about a lot or talked about a lot was the threat of dangerous thought. and the question of thought, and dangerous thought and the way it can disturb the national essence.
a scholar named max ward has written a very wonderful book about this that has just come out and was a big inspiration for this. whether it echoed something fundamental in japanese culture, i am really not trained to answer. but did it echo something crucial in the recent history of japanese governance? it did. i think that is in part why this language of spirit and the danger of dangerous thought did become a point of convergence amongst american policymakers and japanese prewar and wartime leaders in the late 1940's and early 1950's. it echoed something much more recent in japanese history, if that makes sense. christian: can i have a show of hands who else is interested in asking questions? prof. miller: i will try to keep my answers shorter. >> greg brezinski from the
george washington university. i am very interested in how this american conception of democracy ironically actually limits the scope of discussion of certain things. and of course, one of the things as someone who works on other parts of asia that i am interested in what that was not discussed was of course japan's horrific record of wartime atrocities. you know, thousands of women forced into sexual slavery, thousands of koreans forced to work in japanese factories. i am just wondering, what does this american conception of democracy mean for japan's ability to discuss these atrocities? and do you see this conception of democracy as being complicit in any way in japan's ongoing
difficulty in coming to terms with this aspect of its past? prof. miller: thank you. i think that is a really interesting question. you are exactly right to peg this idea that it limits the scope of the discussion. because what increasingly happens is that they start to say things like, that people that are calling for a more critical reflection on japanese actions during the war were or people that are calling for more egalitarian economic distribution at home, but they do not understand the scope of the challenge to democracy and that the very fact of talking about that opens up the national dialogue to potentially dangerous actors and ideas. so you have to shut that down. i think also key here is the fact that much of this, and i do not write extensively about this in the book, but a scholar has written a wonderful dissertation about the u.s.-korea, and japan
during the occupation. much of this is premised in part, one of the biggest and domestic fears of communist infiltration in japan during the occupation is by people from korea, many of whom are forced laborers that were brought to japan during the war. shigeru, the japanese prime minister, and the u.s. occupation authority are talking about these korean residents of japan as this traitorous fifth column that will destroy japan from within. that is a key backdrop especially in 1948 and 1949. there are protests, even riots over the questions of teaching in schools and the korean population, they are concerned about this. this is why korea, one of the reasons, korea does not sign the peace treaty to end the occupation. because they were worried that then koreans would be able to make claims under the treaty on japan. there is also the fact that these ideas are being developed
against that backdrop where one of the most physical manifestations of the communist threat they believe is the korean population in japan, that further mitigates against the idea that japan would need to apologize for any of its wartime behavior. which the u.s. -- at least not in any discussions i have brought up, do they ever see that. i think also the fact that they do increasingly start to see the imperial japanese army is something to be admired in certain ways by the early 1950's, that also works very, very strongly against that idea. christian: thank you. the gentleman up front. the microphone is coming. here. my name is kunio kikuchi, a longtime resident of washington, d.c. professor miller's talk brings
so many memories, it is hard to go into just one question. one point i would like to say, compared to other countries, western countries included in the 1930's, wasn't japan's democracy a real thing in those days? they had the parliament, they had voting, universal voting for men at least. and one reason why the japanese were so, let's say, accepting of the u.s. occupation and their treatment of japan during the occupation was that they were genuinely grateful that this horrendous military dictatorship was destroyed without which they could not from within, because they were all persecuted otherwise.
did you get that sense? prof. miller: thank you for your question. on japanese democracy in the 1930's, i think we can certainly say that prewar japan had some democratic practices and institutions just like the united states had some democratic practices and institutions. remember, american democracy before world war ii was extremely limited by things like jim crow segregation and practices like that. japan certainly had national elections. it also had things like structures where the military was not subject to democratically elected leaders. in terms of accepting it because japanese people were grateful for the end of military dictatorship, i think, and dower is the best to read on this, he traced this out extensively in his book, "embracing defeat." i think some people certainly did. that is partly why on some level, the turn of the occupation starting in 1947,
1948, 1949, against communism felt like such a betrayal to some people. of person criticized, one the big turning points, there is a big strike planned in 1947, and at the last minute macarthur cancels it and says it can't happen. one person criticizes him and says the united states was deceiving us, they only cared about democracy on the tip of their tongues. i found this quote interesting because it shows this shared ground that deception is antidemocratic. people disagree on who is doing the deceiving. so i do think there were certainly people that felt the early occupation to be very liberatory. in certain ways. and that they had the right to express, to vote, to join political parties, to strike, that they do not have under the wartime regime.
christian: we are quickly running out of time. the gentleman over here. let me also throw in one more question. in terms of -- you commented on some of the american historians working on this subject. what issues is the discussion in japan centered on? what do japanese scholars write, when they write about this crucial deal with this crucial period and this crucial relationship? >> thank you for your talk. i am a japan fellow at the wilson center, toshi nakayama. back home, i'm a professor. i also wanted to ask you about the acceptance on the japanese side and the decision on the part of japanese leaders? but since you touched upon that a bit, i will change the subject. you mentioned the u.s. occupation policy that has a shaping of the minds aspect to
it. and the threat perception of the communist infiltration. i can sort of understand, because professors, intellectuals, used to be really respected in japanese societies, and if you look at the intellectual hegemony right after the war, most of the professors intellectuals were sort of left-wing oriented. they were really acceptable to socialism, communism. i can totally understand the threat perception. i was wondering how you treated the role of the intellectuals in that period in the japanese culture? christian: why don't we take ross's question and then i will give you a chance to answer all three questions as we are quickly coming to the end. ross? >> thank you. thank you very much for the talk. ross johnson. wilson center. at least in the first part of your talk, i thought if you changed some names and nouns, you could have been talking
about the first stages of the occupation of germany. i wonder, how much comparative perspective might have been involved in your work? and i suppose, to the extent that we have similarities that might point to -- the impetus is really how the americans went about their business in general with totally defeated countries as opposed to the specifics of japan or germany. prof. miller: i am going to work backwards. i will start with the most recent question about germany and then go to the question about intellectuals and if we have time, get to the historiography. if we don't, we can talk about it afterwards. i think there are a lot of similarities to the occupation of germany. the occupation of germany is playing out in a different context, the context of a divided germany, whereas japan is not divided.
but i think there are also a lot of intellectual similarities. and in particular in the occupation of germany, by the end of the occupation, they are circulating this theory of democratic threats or democratic survival called militant democracy. which is developed by this german intellectual who had fled the weimar regime and came back during the occupation. militant democracy is the idea that democracies have the right to preemptively mobilize against their enemies, even if it requires stripping them of democratic rights. basically, that you don't need to give communists free speech because they will seek to use it to destroy democracy. and thus, democracies have the right to do that. and that is not antidemocratic, but being a militant democracy. the german supreme court will ultimately use that idea to outlaw the communist party in germany, which actually never happened in the united states or in japan, but did in west germany.
i think you can see real similarities there in terms of how they are conceiving of the threat in this time period. i sure there are similarities in am the earlier years, the way they conceived it. about elections, constitution writing, the various things they tried to do, but that's also one of the similarities that strikes me. in terms of intellectuals, professors. i talk about them is in the question of threats, because american policymakers talked about japanese intellectuals all the time. and really feared them. they thought that, generally believed that japanese intellectuals were way too susceptible to communist ideas. that they controlled the public discussion way too much in japan, that they had a lot of influence on public discussion. they made a lot of efforts throughout in various ways throughout the 1950's to try to displace that discussion. they enlisted private actors
like the rockefeller foundation and american professors were involved in this. that is the main way i deal with them. i go a little bit into intellectual leadership in some of these debates, especially in the anti-base movement. where there was -- there were intellectuals that took quite a prominent role. i also talk a little bit about some of the early statements about peace and leading roles intellectuals took in the peace movement which led american policymakers to work hard to reclaim the ground of peace for american policy. because so many japanese intellectuals claimed american policy would not bring peace and democracy, but would imperil those things, placing japan in the path of the cold war threat, especially with military bases. so the critiques of japanese intellectuals and this fear of japanese intellectuals, because
they had quite a prominent platform in postwar japan and published in the big journals like seikai, is something i talk about quite a bit. american policymakers are surprisingly attentive to what they are writing. this last question about the hicalese historic grap discussion. there is a lot of new work particularly in japan about rearmament and the npr that has been a point of interest. there is a lot of new work in english coming out on it that is heavily inspired by the japanese work, working a lot with japanese sources. what is interesting, there is a much more robust historiography on this in japan than in the united states. in the united states, i think there is very few actual books rearmament.se the most recent one was called "national police reserve," coming out a couple years ago. in japan, there has been a long
and robust historiographical debate. also debating things like what were the ideas that led them to bring in american -- former imperial army officers and things like that. there is a much more robust debate going on. >> christian had the fortune of inviting questions. i have the misfortune of shutting down a discussion i think could go on for quite some time. but let me invite you back one danielom today, when will talk about his new book "how to hide an empire: a history of the greater united states." i want to thank you, our participants, and of course thank you to jennifer miller. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> american history tv is on
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inform a consumer about what information is collected and what will be used. we need to have meaningful consent, so a consumer can make a decision about using a product, or not. >> watch "the communicators" monday night 8:00 eastern on announcer: next on the presidency, white house historical association historians matthew costello and lindsay chervinsky talk about their jobs and the history and preservation of the executive mansion. >> you are a senior historian of the white house historical association. i have read you wrote or said that the white house touches on almost every facet of american history. what did you mean by that and give me some examples? matthew: i always see the white house as a place where you can study american history through a wide variety of perspectives and lenses. if you are interested in the people, and you can learn more about the people who live there, the people who work there, the