Team America: World Police

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In the aftermath of World War II, every nation of the world emerged mentally and, in some cases, physically altered. The physical affects of the Second World War spanning from Pearl Harbor to the battleground that made up most of Western Europe to Nagasaki and Hiroshima are visual pictures engrained in the minds of all, past and present, but the American ideology that these destructive images helped to give rise to would directly shape American domestic and foreign policy for approximately the next 50 years and indirectly shape the current policies implemented in the United States today. The United States, a world super power, entered World War II in December, 1941. The apprehensive and notably late involvement of the U.S. provided Allied Powers with fresh combatants and monetary backing that the Axis Powers lacked. America's late entrance and unprecedented force, which inevitably led to the end of the war in favor of the Allies, further cemented America's place as a world power. Although the United States gained its world power status before entering World War II because of its economic rise attributable to industrialization, rail roads, and abundant capital, America could be viewed in a "world tier" of its own for stepping in during a world war and ultimately ending the German force responsible for genocide. This world power standing in conjunction with the worldwide view of America's benevolent intervention has been best defined and articulated by Henry Luce as "American exceptionalism." Thus far, this historical summary has been one of optimism and American chivalry, but it has also been a historical account of an image which did not entirely exist. It is true that the United States entered the war and played a major role in ending World War II, but America's image to the rest of the world could partially be described as one of illusion – a form of propaganda issued by executives with an agenda, optimistic journalists, and the general American public. While the United States was at that time, and remains today, a world power, Henry Luce's "American exceptional" and the American image portrayed to the rest of the world in American accounts of World War II conveniently disregard a very pertinent domestic issue of the time which contradicts the portrait of a compassionate war hero and a morally just America: racism.

The American image of a prominent and overarching world power at this time was best expressed by Henry Luce in his article, "The American Century." This article was printed in Time on February 17, 1941. This date is very important in illustrating the general American view before the United States entered World War II in December, 1941, because the views within provide a solid social foundation upon which post-war image and policy originated. Luce opens his article by declaring: "We Americans are unhappy. We are not happy about America. We are not happy about ourselves in relation to America. We are nervous – or gloomy – or apathetic" (Luce, "The American Century," Diplomatic History, p. 159). This is a very effective opening statement because of his repetitive use of the word "we" and the vagueness of the emotions he describes. Using "we" implies that his article is inclusive to all Americans and the inclusive nature of his words are further supported by using emotions most Americans can relate to at any given time. This simple use of rhetoric by Luce in the very first lines of his article paints a picture of a unified American people – an illustration that disregards the ill-treatment and second-class citizenship of African Americans in the United States at this time. Luce's use of the word "we" is repeated numerous times throughout "The American Century." Luce never mentions racism or demonstrates America as a nation divided. This use of language provides an example of textual manipulation which yields a false image of the United States.

The message Luce develops in "the American...
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