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Blog Post 10/19 – Kayla O’Connell

In this week’s reading of PHUS, the truth behind the United States’ intentions in WWII were revealed. When we read about the United States’ involvement in our early education, we always learned about how heroic our country was and how the U.S. alone saved the world from the Nazi’s.  Contrary to what our textbooks have taught us, the truth is quite the opposite. When WWII broke out, the United States did little about Hitler’s policies of prosecution. Zinn explains that, “It was not Hitler’s attacks on the Jews that brought the United States into World War II, any more than the enslavement of 4 million Blacks brought the Civil War in 1861” (410). We learn about how heroic our country was in WWII, when in reality we only entered the war because of economic reasons and Pearl Harbor.


Pearl Harbor was presented to the American people as “a sudden, shocking, immoral act”. However, this was truly not the case. Although the bombing was immoral, the event itself was not shocking to the American government. The American government already initiated economic sanctions against Japan that they recognized might risk war. Roosevelt ignored this fact and lied to the public about two incidents involving German submarines.  He thought that these lies were for the right cause.


Zinn continues to highlight the truth about monumental events in American history. Over and over throughout history we learn the true intentions of our government. Democrats and businessmen in WWII were focused on making sure that the American economic power would be “second to none in the world” at the end of the war. This economic war was aimed to save capitalism at home and abroad. This makes me question whether our government has started any war without having some sort of economic intention behind it. Is the United States really a “defender of hopeless countries” or are they more concerned about the economy?

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  1. Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley

    I never learned that the “shocking” attacl on Pearl Harbor was actually predicted to happen by the US. Zinn wrote about how this was another thing the government hid, as to have another reason to enter the war. Even though this may have been prevented, the war led to many economic benefits, thus the US wanted to join. The US is no hero, they just wanted to make everyone think they were.

  2. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    I really do not think it is surprising that the United States, or any country, doesn’t start a war with pure moral reasons, as much as one wishes that could be false. The more controversial aspect of American involvement in WWII to me would be the imperialist tendencies caused by “behind-closed-door” deals made with other countries over land, especially France. Each country has to examine its economic goals before engaging in war and should prioritize their own goals in negotiations but should keep morality in focus too, which the United States did. Although Zinn may have stated the Zimmermann Boat act as “sudden, shocking, immoral”, it may have only been a surprise for the “regular American” of that time period, which allowed the government to capitalize on the bombing itself which is a mobilizing tactic. Those types of hostilities between Germany and United States boats were documented in the press for months before, so although that bombing was an escalation it was not a lie.

  3. Kathrine Yeaw Kathrine Yeaw

    I also think it’s interesting to think about the motives behind our wars, and if the true motivation behind all of them was for national power, rather than creating some kind of equality. It makes me wonder why it has always been kept a secret or downplayed. Why would FDR believe lies about Pearl Harbor and our involvement in the war were for the right cause?

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