[Howard Zinn raw #48]

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Howard Zinn speaks at Amherst College on "The Myth of the Cold War."

0:02 Dark shots of a packed audience.

1:23 Howard Zinn shakes hands and converses with audience members before his talk.

5:43 Michael Klare, the director of the Peace and World Security Studies program at Hampshire College makes some announcements and apologizes for the heat. He talks about the problems facing the United States in the contemporary global arrangement of power and introduces Howard Zinn.

9:44 Howard Zinn takes the podium, makes sure people can hear him, and introduces his talk, “The Myth of the Cold War.”

12:06 Zinn explains what he means by “The Myth of the Cold War.” He discusses how the Soviet Union and communism were represented as threats in the United States. He gives an overview of the history surrounding President Woodrow Wilson’s abolition of Haiti’s constituent assembly. He tells the story of General Smedley Butler, a U.S. Marine general who partook in the United States’ activities throughout the Caribbean, but later wrote critically on his time in the service, writing that he was “an errand boy for Wall Street.”

18:42 Howard Zinn talks about American actions in Haiti as contradictory to our supposed commitment to constitutionality. He rejects the false logic that ran throughout the Cold War, that the United States stands opposite the brutality of the Soviet Union rather than shares in them.

22:15 He says that the traditional story of the Cold War, that the United States did what it had to do to keep the world safe from the Soviet Union, is built on the false premise that the United States was a peaceful, neighborly nation before 1917. He reviews the history of American territorial expansion. “So we were already an expansionist nation, we are already a military power, right from after the Revolution, right from after we won the war against England and annulled their Proclamation of 1763…”

27:12 Howard Zinn informs the audience about the history of U.S. military interventions in foreign countries prior to 1898. He talks about the United States’ activities in Argentina, Japan, Nicaragua, and Cuba. He quotes Theodore Roosevelt to illustrate his militaristic, imperialist attitude. He speaks about the sinking of the USS Maine and the investigation several decades later that revealed that its explosion was caused by internal malfunctions. He discusses the Spanish-American War and the U.S. military’s actions against the Moro people in the Philippines.

49:42 Zinn ties his previous remarks back to the Cold War. “There was a reality about the Soviet Union which has to be recognized. But there’s a difference between recognizing a reality and magnifying that reality into a threat to the world requiring the United States to go everywhere and do everything and overthrow this government and overthrow that government and see Soviet motives a thousand, five thousand, eight thousand miles away from the Soviet Union.”

 

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