The world has changed significantly since the 1990s. While changes in technology may be the most obvious, America’s place in the world has shifted several times from the 1990s to today. From the nearly fifty years between the immediate post World War II years to the fall of the Soviet Union 1991, the political world could put into three categories, the first world, second world, and third world. The category reflected a nation’s alignment in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Cold War was the single most important political situation of its time. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the entire world had to adapt to a new political environment. Perhaps no nation had to adapt more to the post-Cold War Era, than the United States, which was now the sole world super power in the world.
This paper will examine the changes America has faced since 1991. Through examining the terms of each President since 1991, and discussing the issues facing America, both foreign and domestic, it is possible to see just how drastically the world and America’s role in it has changed since the early 1990s.
Patrick Buchanan declared in his speech The Culture War for the Soul of America (1992), that American was itself in the midst of culture war. According to Buchanan, moral issues like abortion and homosexuality, were dividing Americans and tearing America apart. Buchanan felt this one of this culture war was one of the most important issues at the time. For this reason, he endorsed George H.W. Bush in 1992, even though H.W. Bush was far more moderate that Buchanan would have liked.
In the early 1990s, the world was changing quickly and drastically. In 1990 President H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev signed the 1990 Chemical Weapons Accord to reduce each nation’s chemical weapons to 5,000 tons. Shortly after that in, December 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved (Lecture 30: Globalization). The dissolution of the Soviet was a major development. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States became the hegemonic power in the world. To be sure, the American people a great deal of triumph when the Soviet Union dissolved, but throughout the 1990s the United States had to adjust to its new role as the only major world power.
The United States did not fare as well domestically as it internationally in the early 1990s. In the early 1990s the United States facing rising crime, increased deficit spending, and a recession. For all of these reasons, the George H.W. lost his 1992 presidential re-election to the Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton served for two terms from 1992-2000. During his two terms, America enjoyed some of the most economically prosperous times in its history. The unemployment was low, home ownership increased, crime rates dropped overall, the deficit spending decreased and the number of people on welfare decreased.
Early in his first term, President Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA creates a free trade zone between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Clinton saw this as a path to future prosperity and promised that NAFRA would not lead to job losses in the years to come. In his speech he said, “NAFTA will generate these jobs by fostering an export boom to Mexico by tearing down tariff walls” (Bill Clinton, speech on signing of NAFTA, 1993). Unfortunately, President Clinton’s hopes for NAFTA were not realized.
NAFTA has had a negative effect on the American economy. NAFA renders America uncompetitive in the world economy. NAFTA has destroyed hurt America’s industrial base. With the signing of NAFTA, the trade deficit with Mexico exploded. Many American manufacturing were moved to Mexico after NAFTA. America has lost 3 million jobs in the past 10 years due to NAFTA (Economy in Crisis, 2015).
In 1998, the Monica Lewinsky rocked the White House and the nation. President Clinton was accused of having sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton denied having sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, which was lie. The House of Representatives impeached President Clinton in December 1998 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, stemming from his lies to Congress over his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. President was able to remain in office because, per Constitutional procedure, the Senate acquitted him of all charges. Despite the Monica Lewinsky scandal, President Clinton enjoyed high approval ratings.
Following President Clinton’s two terms, George W. Bush was elected President in 2001, after a historic election with Democratic candidate Al Gore, which even involved a highly contentious Supreme Court case. The 2000s would be decidedly different from the prosperous 1990s. The first sign of the drastic changes affecting the United States occurred on September 11, 2001 with the attack on the World Trade Centers by the Al-Qaeda terrorist group that resulted in the death of over 3,000 people. One reporter said the September 11 attacks was “the catastrophe that turned the foot of Manhattan into the mouth of hell The city has never suffered a more shocking calamity from any act of God or man.”(New Yorker, Hendrick Hertzberg, “Talk of the Town regarding the September 11th Attacks, 2001).
Following the September 11 attacks, President Bush, and several other nations, sent a large military force into Afghanistan in order to capture the leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden and to overthrow the Taliban, which was operating as the central government of Afghanistan and providing support and sanctuary to Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Bush declared this the “war on terror”.
As part of the war of terror, President Bush also invaded the nation of Iraq to overthrow the Iraqi Saddam Hussein. Bush claimed Saddam Hussein was attempting to build a nuclear weapon to use against the United States. Unlike the war in Afghanistan, the Iraqi invasion looked on favorably by the other nations of the world. To date, no nuclear weapons have been found in Iraq.
In 2004, President Bush won a second term. During his inauguration for his second term, Bush said, “At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together” Since the 1990s, America has had to adopt a fast changing. The political world remained relatively the same from 1945-1991, with the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet dominating world politics. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 the world has changed drastically. The early 1990s saw the United States adapting to its role as the world sole superpower, the mid and late 1990s saw the United States enjoying its role a hegemon with a prosperous economy and peaceful domestic issues. Finally, the 2000s saw the the September 11 attacks and the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. American has faced several significant changes from the 1990s to today.
Buchanan, Patrick. “The Culture War for the Soul of America”. 1992.
Clinton, Bill. “Speech on Signing of NAFTA”. 1993.