Discussion 3: Historians and WWII
Due July 17
Although historians still debate whether America should have entered WWI, there is a consensus that WWII was a defensive war and therefore the “right war to fight.” Indeed, Americans who fought against international fascism and defended democratic liberalism during WWII have been heralded as the “Greatest Generation.”
For some historians, it is absolutely clear that the U.S. was on the “right side of history” during WWII. In other words, there are clear distinctions between good and evil during WWII, and the U.S. and its allies were fighting for the betterment of humanity. Nazi terror across Europe, and the atrocities committed by the Japanese in Asia brought an unprecedented level of human suffering. The U.S. liberated France, freed Holocaust prisoners, and forced the Japanese from China. The Americans, in short, were “the good guys.” For other historians, the differences between good and evil during WWII are not absolute. The U.S., we are reminded, was allies with the Stalinist regime. This alliance helped legitimize Stalin’s policies before and after the war, which historians estimate led the deliberate killing of some 10 million Soviets. And the U.S. was responsible for target-bombing civilian centers, most notably the firebombing of Japan at the end of WWII, which killed an estimated 1 million Japanese civilians, rendered millions homeless, and destroyed practically every major Japanese city.
For this discussion address the following question:
To what extent is WWII morally ambiguous for the U.S.?
Put differently, are the moral distinctions between the Allied and Axis powers absolutely clear? Are you absolutely certain that the Americans were the “good guys” during WWII?
Make sure your essay takes a clear position—make an argument. Your argument is the answer to the question: is American participation in WWII morally ambiguous? Then spend the rest of the essay proving your answer to the question.
Requirements for all discussions.
Failure to complete the requirements will result in lower scores.
–Each response should be 1-2 pages long.
–The discussion and response to a classmates’ post should be submitted via canvas on the due date.
–Your response to every discussion prompt should be written in an argumentative format. It should answer the question in language that takes a strong position and makes your answer to the question abundantly clear. Do not simply write a narrative of events, and avoid writing a response that offers only a general discussion of the topic. Rather, write in such a way that makes clear you are trying to prove a point—to convince somebody of an argument.
–To write an argumentative essay you must have a thesis statement that presents your argument in clear and coherent language, in this case, your answer to the discussion question. The response must cite specific pieces of evidence. The evidence helps prove the argument. The evidence is sourced to the course readings.
–Each discussion will reference at least one of the sources from the course readings.
Because there are no page numbers in the Yawp, you will cite the chapter and section. For instance: (Yawp, 13, II)—13 is the chapter, II is the section.
For the Johnson, indicate the authors and page number, for instance: (Carnegie, 100).
Discussion 3: Historians and WWII