Reagan-era medicine cabinet and native-born American citizen Peggy Noonan has long had the gift of being able to interpret foreign cultures using nothing more than her pure heart and an overflowing mug of gin. Today, she turns her eye to the Far East.

In a column on the release of the torture report, Peggy naturally decides to bring up "a conversation in the summer of 1988" with a Bush operative about why polls showed that Americans just did not like the Japanese.

He didn't think it was economic—he saw in the data that Americans admired Japan's then-rising economy. He didn't think it was World War II per se—he didn't find quite the same kind of responses about Germany. We were quiet for a moment, and then our minds went to exactly the same place at the same time: Japanese torture of American soldiers in the Pacific war. The terrible, vicious barbarity of it. When the war ended, American boys went home, and the story of what they'd seen, experienced and heard filtered through families, workplaces and VFW halls. More than 40 years later, maybe it was still there, showing up in a poll.

It was just our guess, but I think a good one.

I would have guessed "because Americans are racist against non-white people." But who knows.

[Photo: Getty]