Howard Zinn’s chapter, “A People’s War?” discusses United States interventionism in nations across the world following World War II. This movement, masked by anti-communist, anti-Soviet rhetoric, promoted American exceptionalism and resulted in the economic exploitation of nations attempting to recover from imperialism. The United States’ economic takeover of the global economy through exploitation was made possible by the establishment of international government organizations (IGOs) such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations, which consolidated power in the hands of the Allied Powers, with the United States at the helm. This monopolization of global influence by the United States was discussed by former Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who said, “Leadership toward a new system of international relationships in trade and other economic affairs will devolve very largely upon the United States because of our great economic strength. We should assume this leadership and the responsibility that goes with it, primarily for reasons of pure national self-interest” (Zinn 8495). This economic strength would be bolstered in the coming decades through US intervention into foreign governments with the use of covert, and not very covert, coups.
Beginning with the Truman administration, US interventionism was justified as a necessary method of communist prevention, balanced out by Soviet expansion, which “established a climate of fear… which would steeply escalate the military budget and stimulate the economy with war-related orders” (Zinn 8719). In the coming decades, the United States would, directly and indirectly, assist government rebellions across the world in an attempt to promote democracy. For example, the United States funneled weapons, money, and military advisors toward the pro-Democracy side of the Greek Civil War. That said, the “fight for Democracy” was not always the primary motive of the United States. In 1953, the CIA staged a coup d’etat that ousted democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and replaced him with the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. This decision was made to allow the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (formerly Anglo-Persian, now BP) to maintain their oil monopoly. This pattern of US interventionism would persist into the twenty-first century (first and second Gulf Wars), legitimized by American Exceptionalism and the “world police” narrative.