Term Paper: World War II and the United States

Pages: 5 (1799 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Topic: Drama - World  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … World War II and the United States. Specifically it will compare and contrast the United States after World War I and after World War II. There were great consequences for America after World War I and World War II, and the country changed dramatically after each war. Both wars would affect the country for years to come, and victory would come at a very high cost. Both wars created prosperity, one created a baby boom, and both wars led to increased strife in the world, rather than being the "war to end all wars."

World War I began in 1914 and ended in 1918. However, the U.S. stayed out of the action for over two years, only entering the war in 1917, just nineteen months before the war ended. Still, American losses were heavy, with 112,000 dead, and 200,000 wounded (Wynn xv). However, they were far less than the European countries involved in the war suffered. After the war, many people saw the U.S. entry into it as a mistake, and it led to many changes in society, from a more conservative and isolationist outlook, to negative feelings and fear of repression. Author Wynn quotes a writer of the time who says, "The trauma, frenzy, and repression generated by the war supposedly replaced political reform with reaction, social tolerance with prejudice, intellectual optimism with disillusionment, and overall public concern and engagement with retreat into privacy and apathy" (Wynn xv). Thus, the reaction to the war was mostly negative and the government had gained far too much power and authority during the war (Wynn xvi). When young men returned from war, they discovered a country that had altered without them, and a people disillusioned with war and its aftermath. Prosperity increased, at least for a while, and abundant capitalism flourished. Moralities altered into the rip-roaring loose morals of the Roaring Twenties. Americans saw the war as present and ever altering their way of life - not in a good way.

The aftermath of World War II on American life has many of the same characteristics of World War I and its aftermath. Americans did not want any more wars, but for a while, they were almost giddy with relief that this one was over. Again, America had not entered the war when it began in 1939, they waited until 1941 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to enter the war in Europe and the Pacific.

After the war, America changed again, just as it had after World War I. It entered an age of great prosperity and contentment. Couples married younger and had more children, and they moved to that new invention called "the suburbs" and created the "baby boom" generation. They had more children, and more couples were married than any time before or after. Generally, life was good, and society was relatively stable. One writer notes, "This is a powerful image of the nuclear family in the nuclear age: isolated, sexually charged, cushioned by abundance, and protected against impending doom by the wonders of modern technology" (May ix). Technology increased, just as it had after World War I, largely as a result of developments that were created and improved during the war.

Interestingly, the country suffered a "Red Scare" in the 1920s after the Russian Revolution and Socialism took over the Soviet Union, and there was a similar reaction in nuclear arms build up after World War II that resulted in the Cold War, fears of nuclear attack, and a general fear of anything Soviet. The Soviets influenced thought around the world after both wars, and changed the way America viewed them, and our own defenses against them.

Both wars changed the way America looked at its relations with other countries, and created isolationism and fears about political power. As all wars have, they changed America.

Letters From Iwo Jima - a Review

Letters From Iwo Jima," directed by legendary Clint Eastwood, has been hailed as one of the greatest war films of all time. It illustrates the horrors of war, but its main purpose is to show the inhumanity of war, and the great strength of those who fight in wars - on both sides. For decades, the "Japs" were despised enemies of the United States, and this is an attempt to show they were human too, and had lives back home, just like the Americans. The taking of Iwo Jima was a turning point in the Pacific battle of World War II. It spelled the beginning of defeat for the Japanese forces, and the end of the last great and devastating world war.

The story is loosely based on the letters home from Japanese men, letters that mostly went undelivered until archaeologists found them decades later, buried in the hand-hewn caves of Iwo Jima where many men spent their last hours on earth. The letters show they were not "animals" as they were often depicted at the time, but rather they were loving husbands and fathers, many of whom did not really want to go to war. One of the few survivors is Saigo, a lowly baker who lost his shop and then had to march off to fight in a war on a distant island. He is the "hero" of the story that is told entirely from the Japanese point-of-view, right down to English subtitles.

The film is poignant in that so many of the Japanese die trying to protect their homeland, and also in the graphic depictions of war and suicide, considered the only honorable way to die unless in battle. The Japanese were far different than we were, and their culture has many different beliefs, but this film showed them to be greatly human and sympathetic, while showing the war in stark and bloody reality. It is a slow film to watch, and concentrating on the subtitles is not always easy. However, it is a film about World War II that should not be missed, because it gives a new and very different perspective to the war.

Vietnam Compared with Iraq

The purpose of this paper is to introduce, discuss, and analyze the topic of war and the United States. Specifically it will compare and contrast the current conflict in Iraq with the Vietnam War. Inevitably, the conflict in Iraq is being increasingly compared with the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 70s. Both wars seem to have been going on far too long, Vietnam ended in defeat, and Iraq seems destined to see the same fate, and the American people are calling for an end to the war, just as they did during the Vietnam era. Both wars are seen as mistakes, and that seems to indicate a shift in how Americans view war and America's show of force around the world. America did not want to take over North Vietnam, simply protect South Vietnam, but in Iraq, there was a clear goal of overthrowing the government and establishing democracy, one of the first times America has acted so imperialistic in recent history.

Many elements of the war in Iraq seem to compare with the Vietnam War. First, the warfare in Vietnam was guerilla fighting in a jungle atmosphere that stymied U.S. forces during many battles in the war. Our forces were not used to this type of fighting, and did not know how to combat it at first. The fighting in Iraq is largely faction-based, with several different Muslim factions in the country fighting against American involvement and against rival Muslim sects. Thus, it is difficult to find and defeat the enemy. Two historians note, "Additionally, whereas in Vietnam the nature of war evolved from an insurgency into a predominantly conventional conflict, in Iraq it moved exactly -- and quickly -- in the opposite direction, from major conventional combat into an insurgent war" (Record, and Terrill 2). Massive amounts of troops have been sent to Iraq, and the losses during four years (longer than World War II), have been close to 3,500 soldiers. Vietnam claimed 60,000 dead and missing soldiers. Both countries have been devastated by the war, creating a mass exodus of refugees and civilian casualties.

Finally, the reaction at home to both wars has been remarkably similar. The lengthy Vietnam war (involvement from 1959 through 1975), led to massive protests by American college students and others, many of whom took up the outcry again at the onset of the Iraqi War. The wars both became increasingly unpopular, and led to political change in the country, from ousting long-time Republicans to a growing sense of outrage at the American president at the time of both wars.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two conflicts is the lack of a traditional air force and fighting force in the Iraq conflict. The Iraqi Army was under the control of Saddam Hussein, and quickly fell as the attack continued. The historians continue, "The enemy in the Vietnam War was numerically impressive, but then so too were peak-strength U.S. And South Vietnamese forces"… [END OF PREVIEW]

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