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1992 to 2004

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 12 years, 6 months ago

America Confronts the Post Cold War Era
1992 to 2004
 


At the end of the 1980’s and the beginning of the 1990’s things looked promising for the United States. The Soviet Union collapsed and we stood alone as the world superpower. We fought a short, decisive war that reinforced our superior feeling. Unfortunately, things weren’t as rosy as we would have liked. Terrorism, foreign and homegrown, began creeping into our orderly society. Politics took a turn for the worse now that we didn’t have the Soviet menace to unite us.

In 1989 Chinese students began protesting for democracy and freedom in Tiananmen Square. The T.V. news covered the historic event live. The Chinese authorities had finally had enough, and violently crushed the student uprising killing hundreds.

In 1990 the Berlin Wall, long a symbol of communist control, was knocked down. A year later the Soviet Union ceased to exist as a country. The Cold War was finally over.

 

In 1990 the worlds attention turned toward a small country called Kuwait. Iraq fought a ten year war with its neighbor, Iran; the United States had helped both sides leaving the counties with a large debts.  Iraq ceased Kuwait for its valuable oil fields. The United Nations, led by the United Sates, demanded that Iraq leave. Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, refused to leave. In January 1991 Operation Desert Storm or the Gulf War began. The aerial bombing lasted a month. The ground war lasted just days. The U.S. lost 140 soldiers, the Iraqis lost over 100,000. Kuwait was reclaimed, but Saddam was left in power in his country. This war raised the question of what American Foreign Policy was in the post Cold War world. Should we be the world’s policeman or should we look inward?

 

Bill Clinton became the first baby boomer president. He was very charismatic, but the Republican controlled congress sought to stop his legislative agenda. They assigned a special prosecutor to look into his financial affairs to determine if he had done anything illegal. The probe quickly expanded to include his personal life. At first he steadfastly denied having an affair with a White House intern. Later, he tearfully admitted that he did. The Republicans brought him up on impeachment charges of lying under oath. He became the second president to be found not guilty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new technology, the internet, connected people up via their computers. The web made information more accessible, but also gossip, misinformation, and illegal activities easier.

The 1990’s also gave rise to homegrown terrorism. The 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, at the Alfred P. Murrah building, took the lives of 168 people. The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta were bombed. Both of these events were perpetrated by Americans against Americans. Even schools weren’t safe. In 1999, twelve students and a teacher were killed in a Columbine, Colorado high school by fellow students. Even more chilling were the copycat killers, who tried to achieve a higher body count than Columbine.  Outside terrorism sporadically occurred in the in the 1990’s that foreshadowed the more deadly attacks in the next decade. In 1993 the World Trade Center in New York City was bombed, killing six, but it remained standing. The U.S.S. Cole, a navy destroyer, was bombed while refueling in Yemen. U.S. Embassies in Africa were bombed. Later, these attacks would be linked to the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.

 

2000- The 2000’s

The new century would witness a disputed presidential election, the deadliest attack on American soil, a War on Terror, a historic Presidential primary and an election.

The year 2000 was a presidential election year. The Democrats chose Vice President Al Gore and the Republicans selected Texas Governor George Bush. On election night both sides at one point were declared winners. Florida’s popular vote was in dispute (once again Florida messed up a presidential election). Both sides claimed victory, and Florida’s twenty five electoral votes would decide the election. A manual recount started. Each ballot was scrutinized to determine which candidate the hanging or pregnant chad selected. The recount was finally halted by the Supreme Court and George Bush was declared the winner by less than 300 votes. He was the fourth president to be elected when more American citizens voted for the other candidate (the others were Andrew Jackson, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Grover Cleveland).

 

 

On September 11, 2001 terrorists from Al-Qaeda hijacked four planes in the United States. The nation watched in horror as two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. Another plane crashed into the defense building known as the Pentagon and the fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. In all, nearly 3,000 Americans wee killed in the bloodiest day in America since the Civil War battle of Antietam in 1862. The United States gained the support of the world in waging a war on the Terrorists. We invaded Afghanistan, where Al-Qaeda operated. The terrorists were able to train in the war torn country because of the devastation caused by the Soviets and the American backed muhajadeen rebel fighters. We wanted to capture the master mind, Osama Bin Laden, which we still haven’t been able to do yet. We expanded the War on Terror to Iraq. Supposedly, Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) that might be given to terrorists. The Iraq War was a quick American victory, but no Weapons of Mass Destruction were recovered. Reconstructing Iraq proved to be more problematic. American troops were still in the country more than five years after President Bush declared Mission Accomplished.

The 2008 presidential election pitted the Republican Senator John McCain vs. the Democrat Barack Obama. Obama is the first African American to win a major political party nomination. He fought in the Democratic primaries against Hillary Clinton, the first women to seek a major political party nomination. This historic primary seems to be the culmination of the effectiveness of the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Rights Movement of the 1960’s. The election of Obama to the presidency is a historic event. The voter turnout was an astounding 80%, more than 25 % higher than the last three elections, that colossal amount hasn’t voted since the 1800’s. Any time that many people exercise their right to vote, it can only be considered a good thing for America.

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