I found the chapter “A People’s War?” from A People’s History of the United States to be very interesting because I never viewed World War II from the perspective that was addressed. Regarding the chapter from A People’s History of the United States, I have to agree with Zinn that World War II really was an imperialistic war. Prior to the Second World War, the United States and various other European nations had imperialistic foreign policies. They went around imposing their rule on any piece of land that they could. With Germany crushed economically and politically after World War I, they needed and wanted to get on the map by taking control over other countries. Hitler first took over Czechoslovakia and moved to Poland, Austria, France and more. At the same time, German’s allie, Italy, attempted to take over Ethiopia. During and before the war, the United States set up bases in nations in the Pacific frontier as well as in Europe. Another reason why I believe that the war was about imperialism was because after the Allied Powers got to Berlin, they divided it up between the United States, France, Britain, and the Soviet Union. Sticking with the same point, the Soviet Union imposed their lifestyle and their communist beliefs on the Eastern European nations, eventually making up the Communist Bloc.
Something else that Zinn brought up in the reading was the impact of World War II on the home front. While the men were fighting abroad, the role of the American women shifted. Now women were relied upon to work in factories to help the war effort. The reliance on women for the war effort not only helped the US win the war but also changed the role of the American women in society. World War II also helped the racial problem within the United States but only to an extent. The war helped to unite African Americans and whites. Similar to what happened with American Women, African Americans were relied on to serve in the military and aid in the fight towards winning the war. Lastly, the economy dramatically changed at the start of the war. Not only was the United States exporting goods to allied nations but they also employed thousands of workers to help build the supply of weapons, food, and other supplies that was needed by the American military. This is seen when reading that a textile mill that was referenced in the reading had a profit growth of over 600% between 1940 and 1946. Overall, World War II had a massive impact on the United States.
On another note, something else that Zinn addressed in this chapter that I didn’t recognize before was how self-centered the United States. The United States promoted and supported numerous independence movements in other countries; however, while the nation was unstable, they imposed themselves in the country often times by building military bases, and sending American businesses. An example of this was seen with Cuba and the United States. The US supported the Cuban independence movement against Spain. While the entire thing was going on, they built a military base on the island. With the rise of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, the US lost its influence in Cuba and its military base. Another self-centered moment in American history was when the United States demanded an Open Door Policy in China while also demanding a Closed Door Policy in Latin America. The last and most obvious form of the US being self-centered was its policy of imperialism. The United States took over numerous nations and territories throughout its history. Some examples have been Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and more.