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11/4 The Seventies

The point that Zinn constantly highlights throughout this chapter is that even after Nixon resigned from office, the corrupt systems that his administration abused remained largely intact. Even with the corrupt Nixon administration gone, American politicians would still largely be influenced by wealthy business owners. It seems that no matter how much polling reflected the American people’s dissatisfaction with and lack of trust of the governing bodies, no true change in the structuring of power took place. During this class we have learned that the government has almost always hoodwinked the public to some degree, but within this chapter the first tangible examples of presidential corruption were exposed to the public and in response the first prosecution of many government officials took place. After the atrocity of the Vietnam War, the American people were more astute at keeping the government in check than ever, and the Watergate Scandal proved the corruption that many Americans only thought to be true as completely certain.

In this chapter we learned about another military engagement committed without true justification known as the “Mayaguez Affair”. It seems the government was incapable of learning from its previous mistakes in Vietnam. Not only did President Ford break the law by taking action without congressional approval, but he also bombed an area where American Personnel may have been held. In the name of proving that America wasn’t a weak country after its loss in Vietnam, Ford reinforced the idea that the US would still risk its soldiers lives for little gain. Secretary of State Kissinger classification of the risking of the Mayaguez sailors lives as a “Necessary risk”(553) perfectly summarizes why America seems to always be engaged in wars. It is too easy for the powerful people in government to send soldiers who they don’t know into battle. To prevent the pride of the United States from being damaged, the elite risked the lives of seemingly innocent Americans and had the audacity to refer to it as a “Necessary risk”. This dangerous and irresponsible attitude seems to still exist in the minds of politicians today.


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  1. Zariah Chiverton Zariah Chiverton

    I also noticed the point Zinn was making by pointing out the corruption. I think in some way he was trying to show the part that the American people played in allowing this level of corruption. Rather than try to make institutional changes within the government, the American people went along with the lie that only a few people were corrupt and it ended there. However, it was obviously more than that and went a lot deeper than they accepted.

  2. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    As you stated, politicians have no real grasp on what it is to be the average American. They always think of the bigger picture and do not value one human life as the same as another. They are the players in the chess matches and the citizens who fight in the wars are pawns. The Mayaguez Affair perfectly depicts this mindset because President Ford acted without thinking of all the consequences and who would be harmed. I understand that the United States was trying to uphold its position as the International Police Power, but our leaders need to be able to think through decisions rationally and not act off of our first judgment.

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