On to this week’s work and Prompts:
Were heading into WWII this week and also encountering many historiographic debates. You know the routine here. See you online with more grades coming over this week.
This week, US foreign policy and WWII, often called “The Good War” by some historians, if there is such a thing in the big picture. Of course, this implies a certain interpretation that may exclude others. There’s a lot here with the additional links, so dive in. Choose ONE Prompt and then respond to another student Post. *Remember to cite both the Post and Reply, and to diversify sources!
*ALSO- The MIDTERM ESSAY must be uploaded by Sunday, March 28, by 11:59 P.M. See details under Assignments.
This is due just prior to the start of Spring Break. No late work can be accepted.
Readings here from Prompts are chapter 22 in Foner, also Zinn chapter 5, and Stone/Kuznick chapter 3 and 4 (WWII and The Bomb). There are different ways to look at the past other than the oft repeated official views that function as historical myths in our culture. What happens when we look deeper at what information is actually known about WWII? We may be surprised by what we find and what widely respected filmmaker Ken Burns PBS documentary left out about “The War (Links to an external site.)” (and what he’s leaving out about his latest work on the Vietnam War). Perhaps it wasn’t as “good” of a war as the “greatest generation” has claimed or possibly there is more to consider than we may realize…let’s see. Eleanor Roosevelt said of war, “I cannot believe that war is the best solution. No one won the last war, and no one will win the next war.” That’s a view seldom heard. Remember that history is reconstructed by those in the present, so, there are many possibilities in terms of arguable interpretations. What can a broader look at this past tell us, one including many perspectives?
All the Prompts this week will provoke interesting discussionall Posts are due by Sunday, March 28th, 11:59 P.M.
1. Discuss Americas road to war in 1941. What of U.S. foreign policy between the wars and the failed League of Nations? What were the main causes of WWII and then Americas subsequent involvement? How did Americas economic policy with China affect relations with Japan? Pearl Harbor is often called a sneak attack. Foner states there is no credible evidence to suggest that FDR knew of Pearl Harbor in advance. However, this no longer appears to be the case (see links). After reading the links below, from Robert Stinnett, and Smedley Butler, what would you argue about a history of capitalism and war policy or false flag operations and Pearl Harbor specifically? Keep this in mind for future discussions. History as myth can also be a form of propaganda. How might history (information/interpretation) function as a weapon itself in the present?
*Here is a radio interview I did Dec. 2012 with Dr. Peter Kuznick (co-author w Oliver Stone on The Untold History of the United States-also a series on Showtime), plus Dr. Jacques Pauwels on the Myth of the Good War.
On air at KPFA archived here for you to listen:
Project Censored Show (Links to an external site.)
Some other links:
Smedley Butler- War is a Racket (Links to an external site.)
Stinnett- Pearl Harbor (Links to an external site.)
Pearl Harbor- Another View (Links to an external site.)
2. Warfare strategy and technology helped lead the US and its allies to a victory by 1945. How did the US help defeat the Nazis in Europe, and what was the role of the USSR? What of US strategy with the Japanese in the Pacific? How did the US develop atomic weapons and what role did they play at the end of the war and its aftermath? What moral dilemmas arose? For all the talk in past years about the use of weapons of mass destruction, the US is the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons in particular. Was it “necessary” to drop “the Bomb” to end the war? What do Stone and Kuznick say on the matter (chapters 3 and 4- and don’t forget the documentary version online)? How may other counties without nuclear technologies view this phenomenon? Finally, in what historical context was the United Nations formed and what was its purpose? How do you see the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in historical context coming out of WWII?
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Links to an external site.)
Interview (Links to an external site.) I conducted with historian Peter Kuznick on the atomic bombings of Japan 75 years later.
3. How did African Americans and other minorities experience WWII at home and abroad? What changes were there for women at this time? What of Executive Order #9066 on the Japanese Internment and civil liberty concerns? Are there any possible parallels with fascist societies here? Why or why not (read the fascism links below and see the controversial links at the bottom on analogies)? What of those that were against the war? What was there reasoning and how did they display their dissent? What can we learn from these issues about where we are today in terms of a foreign policy that sees “terrorism” as a constant threat?
They thought they were free… (Links to an external site.)
Children of the Camps (Links to an external site.)
Executive order 9066 (Links to an external site.)
First the came for the… (Links to an external site.)
And what of those historical analogies, past to present? Are they useful or accurate? Regardless of whether or not one agrees with such views, they do have historical legitimacy outside current or recent political realms. How analogous they are, however, is a matter of interpretation, as discussions about the nature of fascism in the present are quite controversial and rarely agreed upon.
Characteristics of Fascism (Links to an external site.)
Naomi Wolf- Fascist America in 10 Steps? (Links to an external site.)
Chris Hedges- Rise of American Fascism (Links to an external site.)
And even more to chew on…from our recent past under the Bush and Obama presidencies…
Good Germans Among Us (Links to an external site.)
Drones (Links to an external site.)
And still more– What of the Bush and Obama administrations’ actions on torture, indefinite detention, suspension of habeas corpus, targeted assassinations of US citizens abroad, the use of drones at home? There have been some changes, but some policies remain pretty consistent in a post 9/11 world. And what of the direction under the Trump administration, and now Biden? Again, these are certainly controversial territories of discussion. Looking forward to your thoughts.