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9/30- Isa Keetley

In chapter 12 Zinn discusses American involvement in the affairs of other nations. He states that from 1798-1895, the US armed forces partook in 103 separate interventions in different nations. Furthermore, he describes the beginnings of the US involvement in Cuba and the Spanish-Cuban-American War. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that the US was pushing to enter into Cuba and fight the Spanish. We are a bloodthirsty nation, always waiting for the perfect time to act and our past of frequent interventions in other nations, reiterates this point. Zinn also points out that the US had many plans for Cuba, none of which included independence. Go figure! Another disappointment, but not a surprise. This stemmed from the institutionalized discrimination at time; racism against people who were in white. Zinn writes, “Roosevelt was very contemptuous of races and nations he considered inferior” (300). The president at the time was known to be racist, and this drove him to engage with the Spanish in Cuba to ensure that it would not become a “black” territory. 

The additional reading touches on the idea that countries will do whatever it takes to benefit themselves, even in the smallest of ways. It also explains the idea of American Exceptionalism, something I feel we have all learned growing up. I find this “exceptionalism” to be similar to the “American Dream,” an idealized version of the United States, something the people needed to believe in. However, this is not the case at all, as American Exceptionalism, is all but a dream. The author of the article counters, the only way to actually achieve this sort of ideal exceptionalism is to view America from a different perspective, understanding that it is not the best at everything. It is only then that we can achieve exceptionalism as a nation. I then ask, in what scenario is nationalism too much as to become somewhat of a myth? Is nationalism another made up ideal to promote the interests of one country through the somewhat fake unity of people?

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5 Comments

  1. Christopher Wilson Christopher Wilson

    From my understanding, I would say that in most, if not all, scenarios, nationalism is a myth, given that one’s pride in their country comes from historical narratives, which we know are subjectively based and do not always tell the brutal truth. To answer your second question, I would not say that nationalism is an ideal of fiction. Nationalism is real and has a lot of power, especially when a country goes to war against another nation that its people have antagonist feelings towards. Although, I would argue that nationalism does create this image that everyone- from the rich to the poor- is unified on the home front, which is a myth. The American home front of World War II is a perfect example of this.

  2. Alexandra Oloughlin Alexandra Oloughlin

    I really liked the questions you proposed. While Nationalism may not be entirely a myth, it usually surges at a time that a country needs to unify and come together. It comes with exaggerations and propaganda in kind of a fake it till you make it kind of way. This can be harmful when it causes a false sense of reality and prevents a nation from looking at and fixing its flaws. As said in the article, America needs to step away from its false sense of superiority and examine our issues in order to improve and achieve exceptionalism.

  3. Tess Keating Tess Keating

    I think your final line, the question about if nationalism is a made up ideal, is super interesting. I also feel like there is something fishy about nationalism to try and prove that the people are unified, when in reality, in the US for example, there is a lot of tension between different groups of people.

  4. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    I had always been taught that one of the reasons the United States was able to prosper and grow in the nineteenth century was because of its isolationist principles adopted from the Monroe Doctrine. While it is true they stayed out of mainland Europe. they were not isolationist and depended on foreign markets to grow their economy and imperial “spheres of influence” to serve as quasi-colonies of their own. As you pointed out, there were over 100 instances of external intervention by the armed forces at this time. The United States was not afraid to assert its dominance abroad and began forging its role as the international police power from its inception.

  5. Julia Leonardi Julia Leonardi

    I love your connection to the American dream, as I feel like it has been a common theme throughout our class. It is a super idolized view of the United States, and it provides false hope. Most people who live in the United States have this idea their country is responsible for policing the world and constantly intervening when their intervention has caused many crises.

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