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A People’s History of the United States By: Howard Zinn. Chapter 16: A People’s War?. Howard Zinn during World War II. Questions . To what extent was World War II truly “A People’s War”? How much of this support was manufactured?
A People’s History of the United StatesBy: Howard Zinn Chapter 16: A People’s War? Howard Zinn during World War II Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
Questions • To what extent was World War II truly “A People’s War”? How much of this support was manufactured? • What actions did the United States take to provoke their involvement in the war? • Was it an imperialist war or a humanitarian war? What issues in the United States would debunk the notions that the war was for humanitarian reasons? Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
Prior to WWII • “…if the entrance of the United States into World War II was (as so many Americans believed at the time, observing the Nazi invasions) to defend the principle of nonintervention in the affairs of other countries, the nation’s record cast doubt on its ability to uphold that principle.” (409) • The United States has a long history of intervening in other countries for their own personal, political, or economic gain. Had WWII not provided some sort of domestic or foreign interest, the U.S. may not have been so adamant about joining. In pages 408-409 Zinn states some of these instances: • Opposed Haitian revolution for independence • Instigated War with Mexico and took more than half of their land • Pretended to help Cuba, only to set up military bases and investments there instead • Seized Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico • Declared “Closed Door” in Latin America to every other country except the U.S. • Created independent state of Panama so that it can have full control of the Canal • Intervened in wars in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba, all for personal interests • Half of Latin America’s finances were being in some way controlled by the United States by 1924 • Sent thousands of troops to Russia to intervene with Bolshevik Revolution Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
Open Door Policy in China • The United States had declared “Open Door” Policy in China only to exploit Chinese markets • The Open Door Policy was conceptualized by Secretary of State John Hay. He sent out a note to the other European Nations regarding this “Open Door” in 1899. Hay proposed that China would be open to trade with all countries equality so that no one international power could take control over China. • The Open Door Policy was not an issue until Japan’s interests in the area threatened U.S. interests. • The Japanese attempted to takeover China and Chinese industries of tin, rubber and oil (All of which are major U.S. interests.) • In 1941, the United States placed an embargo on Chinese scrap iron and oil. Secretary of State John Hay Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
Leading up to the War and Pearl Harbor • United States declared an embargo on ammunition for Italy, but did not stop U.S. businesses from sending oil. • U.S. declared neutrality in Spanish Civil War and cut off aid, while Hitler helped fund Franco. • The U.S. took a pro-Soviet stance during WWII although they had been against Russia during WWI. • Hitler invaded Austria, took over Czechoslovakia and attacked Poland—none of these actions persuaded the United States into joining the war. • Japanese interest in China and Chinese resources prompted the U.S.’s attention to the war. • The United States antagonized the attack on Pearl Harbor. Zinn states, “Pearl Harbor was presented to the American public as a sudden, shocking, immoral act. Immoral it was, like any bombing – but not really sudden or shocking to the American government.” (411) Bombing of Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941 Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
Foreign and Domestic Policy during WWII • Franklin D. Roosevelt used Pearl Harbor as a way to deceive Americans into entering the war. • The United States promised to help France restore its power in overseas colonial territories such as Indochina. • U.S. diplomats were working to ensure that the United States would have the greatest amount of economic power in the world after the war. • An “Open Door” policy was created for the U.S. throughout Europe and the Middle East. • England and the U.S. set up the International Monetary Fund and The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to help countries destroyed by the war. • Russian Ambassador Averell Harriman states “Economic assistance is one of the most effective weapons at our disposal to influence European political events in the direction we desire…” (414) • The United Nations was created to act as an international police in order to prevent any future wars yet it was dominated by only 4 countries: the U.S., England, France and the Soviet Union. Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
Humanitarian Issues • The extermination of Jews was not a primary concern for FDR and he therefore passed it to the State Department to find a solution. • Hitler’s notions about Aryan supremacy were not so different from America’s notions at home. Segregations and racism were just as prominent in the states and blacks faced it on a daily basis. • The interment of 110,000 Japanese in the west coast was also a prime example of the racism that persisted in the U.S. • Interment Locations included: Amache, Colorado, Heart Mountain, Wyoming, Topaz, Utah, Tule Lake, California and many others. “Roosevelt was as much concerned to end the oppression of Jews as Lincoln was to end slavery during the Civil War; their priority in policy was not minority rights, but national power.” (410) Japanese-Americans forced to move to Manzanar, CA with only the items they could carry. Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
Wartime Manufacturing • The United States provided England and France large amounts of supplies beginning in 1940 (prior to the U.S. entering the war) • The U.S. government spend almost $1 Billion on contract manufacturing and research and approximately $400 million of that money went to only 10 large companies. • During the War, over 14,000 strikes occurred. Workers saw their wages being frozen or depleted while manufacturing companies were setting record profits. • There were also over 25 million workers who gave their pay for war bonds. (407) Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
Opposition to War • 43,000 men refused to fight the war who were drafted; 6,000 of whom were later imprisoned. • Many blacks refused to fight as well; they were placed in segregated units. • Zinn quotes a black journalist stating “The Negro…is angry, resentful, and utterly apathetic about the war. ‘Fight for what?’ he is asking. ‘This war doesn’t mean a thing to me. If we win I lose, so what?’”(419) • There were groups of pacifists and anarchists such as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. • The group that suffered the most was the Socialist Workers Party. Under the Smith Act of 1940, anyone suspected of notions or involvement to overthrow the government would be arrested. Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
During the War-European Front • British and American aerial attacks on German and Japanese civilian cities were far more atrocious than any of the German attacks. • “The destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system and the undermining of the morale of the German people to the point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened.” (421) • The bombing of Dresden in 1945 killed more than 100,000 people, mostly civilians. Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
During the War-Japanese Front • 2 Atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in order to avoid an invasion of the country. The first was on the town of Hiroshima, killing over 100,000 and the second on the city of Nagasaki killing over 50,000. • The United States claimed that the atomic bombing of Japan was necessary in order to save money and lives of Americans. • General George Marshall stated that the Japanese should be informed of the atomic bomb so that the areas could be cleared of civilian population, but that was ignored by the U.S. government. • The U.S. already knew through interpreting Japanese code messages that the Japanese planned to surrender and even knowing this, the plan to drop the atomic bombs were followed through with. Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
Aftermath • The manufacturing during the war effort increased profits from $6.4 billion to $10.8 billion. • Corporations, such as General Motors wanted to continue the same model of economy and Truman agreed. • The years after World War II, the Cold War against the Soviet Union would encapsulate the American economy and ideologies. • A constant fear of Soviet Communism kept wartime manufacturing running. • The United States established itself as the world leader after the War. They became involved in issues all across nations including Greece, China and Korea. They poured money into governments and leaders that were against Communist regimes and takeovers, even if they had no connection to the Soviet Union. • Senator Joseph McCarthy led the fear of Communism back home in America. He declared lists of people whom he believed to be Communist and working secretly for the Communist Party. Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
Answers • World War II had a greater amount of participation from the American public than any other war in it’s history. Over 18 million men served in the armed forces; 10 million of which served overseas. However, much of this support was manufactured by the government. After the U.S.’s involvement in WWI, Americans did not want to be dragged into another international war. Support for the war changed with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. • The Open Door Policy in China had not been an issue until WWII. All the nations who participated in the policy with China had done so peacefully. It was not until Japan wanted to have more control of China and it’s industries that the U.S. became involved. In order to stop Japanese advancement in China, the U.S. placed an embargo on Chinese industries, putting Japan in a position to attack. The U.S. government awaited an attack on Pearl Harbor. FDR and his cabinet knew the attack would be coming weeks in advance as they had cracked the Japanese codes. • WWII was an imperial war. It was a way in which the 4 major players (Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States could establish themselves as the world powers, especially the U.S. The U.S. had no humanitarian interests in the war. Back home, African Americans were faced with racism, segregation, violence and denied basic human rights. During the war, the Japanese were taken away from their homes and interned in camps for months and years without any justified reason. The United States played a hero for humanitarian rights by fighting the war in Europe, yet showed no sign of the same humanitarian efforts at home. Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003
Bibliography • Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (New York: Harper Perennial: 1999) 407-442. • “List of Detention Camps, Temporary Detention Centers, and Department of Justice Internment Camps” CLPEF Network, assessed April 1, 2014. http://www.momomedia.com/CLPEF/camps.html • “Secretary of State John Hay and the Open Door in China, 1899–1900” US Department of State, assessed April 1, 2014. http://history.state.gov/milestones/1899-1913/hay-and-china Ovsanna Mouradiyan-CH S 245 OL-14003