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Zariah Post for 10/19

After reading this chapter, I can’t help but think how different the world we live in would be if governments operated under moral code rather than political and economic agendas. I don’t only mean the United States, but every other country who seems to put their imperialist goals above basic ethics. In this reading, Zinn makes connections between President Roosevelt and President Lincoln during their terms. As we discussed before, Lincoln was not too concerned with slavery from a moral standpoint. He mainly used that as a way to follow through with his own agenda. Then there is Roosevelt. He also didn’t have much concern for the Jewish people from a moral perspective because if he did, when the Nazis first started killing the Jewish people, he would’ve intervened then. The fact that they both used these reasons as justifications for getting involved or to defend their point, shows that they understand that morals do matter in politics, but only when they want them to. They only used the basis of the opposing actions as not being right when they ran out of other options, but by this point, it is too late.

Another very big problem that Zinn talks about is the dropping of the atomic bombs. What I learned from this chapter that I didn’t know before, was that the United States government knew that the Japanese were going to surrender but they still chose to drop the bombs anyway. Not only did they drop one, but after seeing the aftermath of the first one, they went ahead with the second. I will say it is a strong maybe the first one can be justified, but there is no reasonable defense for the second one.

Hitler’s rise to power had a lot to do with him capitalizing on the weak economy of Germany and using that for his gain. I see a parallel to the United States government in later years. During the Cold War, the Truman administration presented the Soviet Union as an immediate threat to Americans. There were drills and propaganda during this time that put Americans in a state of constant fear because they did not know what could happen. Although the types of vulnerabilities were different, how different is it from Hitler who also used the vulnerability of the people for political gain? I’m not trying to say that Truman was turning into Hitler and that genocide was going to happen. However, the government did decide to evacuate and place Japanese into internment camps, another unethical choice on the U.S. that goes ignored. There are so many similarities between America and other countries, but for some reason, we only focus on the minuscule differences and not on the obvious problems that are there. How do the U.S. and its people continue to distance themselves from the wrongful actions of other countries when our actions have proved that we may not be all that better? Something to think about is a point that Zinn makes about these wrongful actions, “Was it a “mistake”-or was it an action to be expected…” (416)


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  1. Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley

    Zinn poses the question of how did the US exemplify what they “were fighting for” before and after the war. I think this very important to consider, especially in relation to your comment about morality. If the US was really fighting for the Jewish people, one would think that they would do the same by putting Asian-Americans in internment camps. The motivations for the war were wrong, therefore, this cannot be considered a “just” war.

  2. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    I agree and think we would live in a more productive world if counties placed ethics above imperialist tendencies, but I think it is incorrect and dangerous to conflate the ideas behind morals and ethics as they are distinctly different. I do agree with your argument, but I think that you are looking at history through just its leaders, rather than the whole “body” they represent; examining the Civil Rights Movement through Lincoln or enaction of US involvement in WWII through Roosevelt, though they both played a key role, would be a misjudgment as they have larger priorities than the individual, meaning economic interests could be a larger issue. Countries do not have the luxury of joining wars with just a moral motive. Therefore, I disagree with your conclusion presented in the first paragraph, I would much rather have the US join the war to defeat Hitler’s imperialist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and racist ideologies, under any reason or justification, than not have the US join at all. The utilization of morals is something that every individual, community, and nation does. America’s utilization of their own justifications to mobilize the military was not late at all, and was exactly what was needed to defeat a global impending threat. No war can be fully morally justified.

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