Sony salesmen or statemen?

The Japanese system has not been easy for Americans to comprehend. It took me a long time to grasp how decisions are made . . . One of the features of the Japanese system is its opaqueness to outsiders. . . . A foreigner underestimates the Japanese at his peril. It is true that they are not as conceptually adept as, say, the Chinese, as articulate as most Europeans, or as boisterously open and forthcoming as Americans. [Japanese leaders] have not been selected for any of these qualities. They gather intelligence about foreigners; they do not seek to persuade them with words. They chart future actions for their society; they do not need to articulate its purposes in rhetoric.

Kissinger, Henry. Years of Upheaval, pg. 735. (Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1982)

This is what Henry Kissinger wrote years after his time in office, in which he admits to not have understood the Japanese as well as he did other peoples, having written them off as commercially, rather than strategically, minded. I think that several years down the line, American leaders, writers, and other public figures will look back at their contemporary writings and statements on Iran and come to similar realizations about Iran’s “rationality” and leadership hierarchy.


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