Analysis of Howard Zinn's Argument in his Article Dying for the Government

Analysis of Howard Zinn's Argument in his Article Dying for the Government

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Analysis of Howard Zinn's Argument in his Article "Dying for the Government"


In June of 2003, Howard Zinn’s “Dying for the Government” was published in “The Progressive” newspaper. He discusses the government’s claim to military victory in Iraq, and he believes that many innocent people have died for an unjust cause in that war. His claim is that soldiers died for their government, not their country. An important part of his argument is his discussion of democracy, which he says is what our country is supposed to be based on. He also brings up some history of U.S. wars and quotes Mark Twain’s statement about the invasion of the Phillipines by the United States. Even though some of his assertions lack evidence, Zinn uses authority and structure very well to make his argument effective.

Some of Zinn’s assertions are a bit sketchy in his essay because there is no evidence that proves them true. One that really stands out is when he writes, “[they] died for Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. And yes, they died for the greed of the oil cartels, for the expansion of the American empire, for the political ambitions of the President. They died to cover up the theft of the nations’ wealth to pay for the machines of death” (159). His argument may seem true to many, but he does not provide us with any evidence that these statements are accurate. He does not say where he got this information, so it may be hard for some to believe this, unless they share the same opinions as him. Another statement he makes is that “[we] have not been given in the American media (we would need to read the foreign press) a full picture of the human suffering caused by our bombing” (159). This is a very strong assertion, but he does not tell us if he...


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...ifth of whom grow up in poverty?” (161). Questions like these make his argument very strong, and they are purposely added towards the end to make the reader consider their own thoughts about them after already having been given information on the topic. It is obvious that he is against the expansion of U.S. power, and he is very passionate in his writing about it.

Authority and structure make Zinn’s argument very effective, even though some of his assertions do not have much evidence. Throughout the essay, he makes it very clear how he feels about the government and war. He feels soldiers are dying for their government so the U.S. can gain more power. Towards the end of the essay, he writes, “[instead] of being feared for our military prowess, we should want to be respected for our dedication to human rights” (161). I could not have said it better myself.

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