Bush and the Post Cold War Era
With the disintegration of the Soviet empire, the Cold War which shaped U.S. policy for nearly a half-century finally died. The threat of nuclear annihilation subsided and the American public breathed a sigh of relief.
Black Monday, 1987, Stock Market crashes: The market had enjoyed incredible success for the past five years and had tripled in size. On October 19, 1987, it fell 508 points in the largest single day drop in history. Though it soon regained the loss and surged to new heights, the volatility and uncertainty remained.
Jackson, Rev. Jesse, Rainbow Coalition: Jackson, once an associate of King, tried to build a "rainbow coalition" of blacks, Hispanics, displaced workers, and other political outsiders to try to gain nomination and election in 1984. Jackson ran several times for the presidency, but was not moderate enough to gain popular approval.
Election of 1988--candidates, issues: Bush got the Republican nomination while Michael Dukakis won the Democratic nomination over Jesse Jackson. Bush chose Quayle as his running mate for his good looks. Taxes, crime, and personal appearance were the main issues in 1988. Bush won fairly decisively on a negative campaign.
George Bush: Bush was Vice President under Reagan, and was president from 1989 to 1993. As president, Bush was successful in areas of foreign relations. He eased relations with Russia, resisted the Russian military’s attempted coup in 1991, and fought Saddam Hussein in the Persian gulf. He was not as successful in domestic affairs as the economy dwindled and the deficit rose; the effects of the era of Reaganomics. Bush was defeated by Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the 1992 election.
holes in the "Iron Curtain": Due to Gorbachev’s more liberalized policies, Moscow began losing direct control over Eastern Europe. The USSR reduced its military force in its eastern satellites and allowed more freedom of expression. Non-Communist political movements soon developed in Poland, Hungary, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia.
Berlin Wall falls, Germany reunited: The dismantling of the Berlin Wall began in 1989. Germany, having been divided into East and West Germany since World War II, unified in October 1990. The wall which separated the two countries fell, and citizens were once again permitted to travel between East and West Germany.
Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act: Passed in 1986, the bill required the automatic unilateral slashing of many budget items. These included many domestic and defense programs. The goal of the bill was to reduce the enormous debt of the Reagan years and to have a balanced budget by the year 1991.
national debt triples from 1980 to 1989, 908 billion to 2.9 trillion: In an effort to re-stimulate the economy, Reagan’s administration increased defense spending drastically while lowering taxes. The debt skyrocketed during his term. His philosophy of supply-side economics, or heavy spending in the corporate sector, was a contributing factor.
Clean Air Act, 1990 (also one in 1970): President Bush sponsored the bill, which set stricter regulations on many airborne pollutants. The act was aimed at reducing the chemicals which cause acid rain, smog, ozone damage and many airborne carcinogens. The act was a cornerstone in pollution regulation legislation.
Bennett, William J., "drug czar"--Office of National Drug Control Policy: Bennett was chosen as "drug czar" by Bush in response to national concerns about drugs. His job was to coordinate federal programs against drugs, and his first target was the violent drug lords of Washington, D.C.
Tiananmen Square, Beijing: 400-800 students were massacred by government troops during a pro-democracy demonstration in Beijing’s central square. A wave of repression and executions followed. The U.S. responded with outrage and cut everything but diplomatic relations.
Nicaragua, Pres. Ortega defeated in free election: President Daniel Ortega, the leader of the Sandinista regime, was defeated in 1990 by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro in national elections. Chamorro’s election signaled a more moderate turn for the Nicaraguans, though the transition has met resistance. The U.S. supports Chamorro.
August 1991, attempted coup in Moscow, Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin: In 1991, hard-line communists seized power from Gorbachev, who wished to give more power to the states. The coup failed, but the political turmoil led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union into independent states. Yeltsin, the president-elect, called for Russians to resist the coup.
End of the Cold War, Commonwealth of Independent States, 1991: After the failed coup in August of 1991, the 15 Russian states declared independence. Fearful of centralized power but mindful of the economic pitfalls of independence, 12 of the states formed the Commonwealth of Independent States and severed all ties to the old Soviet regime. The Commonwealth was a loose economic union, though it is still considered a single country.
difficulties between Russia and the new republics: The new republics were wary of losing power to Russia, by far the largest and most endowed state, which hampered political unity. Violence erupted in some states. The economy was in shambles after the lifting of economic restraints and a severe drought. The commonwealth was very weak.
Hussein, Saddam, Iraq invades Kuwait: On August 2, 1990, Iraqi president Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait after oil negotiations between the two broke down. Iraq had complained that Kuwait was exceeding its oil production quota and flooding the world market, driving prices down. This was the direct cause of the Persian Gulf War.
UN Security Council Resolution 661 (trade embargo on Iraq): On Aug. 6, 1990, the resolution imposed an embargo on Iraqi trade effectively halting oil shipments from Iraq and Kuwait. Hussein responded by increasing his forces in Kuwait. The embargo had severe economic effects on surrounding countries who depended on Iraqi trade and oil.
Desert Shield, Gen. Collin Powell: In August 1990, President Bush ordered a buildup of troops into Saudi Arabia called Desert Shield. It was led by General Collin Powell, who became so popular as to later contemplate a 1996 presidential run. Desert Shield became Desert Storm on January 17 with the beginning of the allied air assault.
UN Security Council Resolution 678: The allied operation shifted to a potentially offensive nature with this resolution, issued November 29, 1990. It authorized the use of force by the allies if Iraq did not withdraw from Kuwait by January 15. The resolution was evoked early on January 17 when Allied planes began the air offensive.
Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, Gen. Schwarzkopf: Beginning with a bombing raid on January 17, 1991, Desert Storm was directed by Gen. Schwarzkopf. The air raid utilized the most advanced missile technology such as smart bombs and cruise missiles to weaken the Iraqi defenses. Iraqi forces, though more numerous than the Allied force, were far behind technologically. The short ground war began on February 24 and ended two days later. An estimated 110,000 Iraqi soldiers died with about 300 U.S. deaths.
SCUD missiles, Patriot Missiles: SCUD’s were Soviet-made surface to surface missiles used by Iraq to bomb Israel during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. They were aimed at provoking Israelite retaliation to fracture the Allied-Arab alliance but were countered effectively by the U.S. Patriots launched to destroy SCUD’s while still airborne.
revolts in Iraq--Shi’ites in South, Kurds in North: Postwar uprisings by Shi’ite Muslims in southern Iraq and Kurds in the North were crushed by Hussein’s army. The fighting claimed nearly 25,000 lives and created massive refuge problems for bordering nations. The U.S. used force to protect the Kurds. The UN created a safe zone for them.
Family Support Act, 1988, "work fare": This Act tried to reform the welfare system. It contained strict work and child support guidelines. Some of its provisions required women on welfare to work if they have no children under 3 years old, and parents without custody could have child support payments withheld from their paychecks.
MTV: MTV was part of the "cable revolution." Cable TV became a fixture in many U.S. households, leading to the rise of smaller networks. Once was dominated by ABC, NBC, and CBS, now stations like CNN, FOX, and MTV were legitimate contenders. MTV specifically became an important marketing tool for music and politics.
1991 Civil Rights Act: The act allowed women, people with handicaps, and religious minorities to collect punitive damages for intentional on-the-job discrimination. Previously, only racial minorities could claim damages. It widened the definition of discrimination and forced businesses to respect citizens rights of equality.
Thomas, Clarence, Supreme Court, Anita Hill: Thomas, the second black justice on the Court, was nominated and seated in 1991. His nomination was plagued with controversy due to sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, a former associate. The charges were dismissed in a series of highly public congressional hearings.
baby-boom generation hits middle age: Once called the "Me Generation," people of the 1980s were interested with personal over public concerns. The "yuppie" was a person preoccupied with physical fitness, money, and materialism. TV’s, VCRs, and personal computers were common.
gentrification: Reversing the trend of the middle-class exodus from urban centers, yuppies bought run-down apartments and town houses in poorer districts and fixed them up. The process often came at the expense of poorer and older residents, including a great number of elderly citizens.
increased Asian, Hispanic immigration: 45% of immigrants since 1960 have been from the Western Hemisphere, and 30% have come from Asia, signaling a new pattern of immigration. The issue of illegal immigration became a hot topic politically, especially in the south west and west. Many bills were passed in an attempt to limit immigration.
"gridlock," Congress vs. the President: Because a Democratic President and a Republican Congress were elected in 1992, both had the power to obstruct the other. This "gridlock" occurred midway through Clinton’s term. Unable to resolve a dispute, many government projects and parks were closed down for several weeks.
Election of 1992—candidates, issues, Ross Perot: The election of 1992 was primarily between the Democrat Bill Clinton and the Republican incumbent George Bush. Ross Perot, of the Independent party, did well in early polls, dropped out of the running, then returned near November with much less support. The major issues were the state of the economy, which had taken a turn for the worse at the end of the Bush administration, the state of medical insurance, and Bush’s record of foreign diplomacy.
bombing of World Trade Center: In 1993, a bomb in a parking structure of the World Trade Center Building in New York killed six and injured nearly 1000 people. Officials later arrested militant Muslim extremists who condemned American actions towards Israel and the U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf War.
European Economic Area, Jan. 1, 1993: The 7 nations of the European Free Trade Association (except Switzerland) and the 12 European Community nations signed an accord to create an enlarged free-trade zone, the EEA. Some nations have loosened border and currency restrictions to make political unity easier.
GATT, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade: An international plan to reduce tariffs and establish laws governing trade of services, investments, and other economic issues, was approved by the 117 members of GATT. The plan also established an agency to deal with international trade disputes, called the World Trade Organization.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): After a fierce political struggle, NAFTA was approved by Congress in 1993. It eliminated trade barriers between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, making the flow of commerce more efficient. The NAFTA victory for free trade set the stage for the GATT treaty.
disintegration of Yugoslavia: In 1991-1992, Yugoslavia split into Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. Violence erupted in Bosnia as Serbs and Croatians fought, killing tens of thousands. Many of Bosnia’s Muslims were victims of "ethnic cleansing," mass expulsions to promote a Serbian ethnic partition of Bosnia.
PLO-Israel Peace Treaty (1993), Arafat, Rabin: A historic treaty was signed between Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin which would allow Palestinian self-rule in parts of Israel, protect Israelis in Palestinian areas, and a recognition of Israel and the PLO as legitimate entities. Radical Israelis and Palestinians denounced the treaty and violence ensued.
Somalia: A massive famine caused by warring factions of the government prompted George Bush to send troops (along with the UN) to protect relief efforts in December 1992. The effort succeeded in ending the famine, but not the violence. Soon, the U.S. was sustaining casualties, and by 1994 the U.S. left leaving the UN in charge.
Whitewater: A scandal which has plagued Bill and Hillary Clinton while in the White House, the Whitewater affair revolves around the question if the Clinton’s benefitted improperly from their involvement in a real estate venture, the Whitewater Development Corp. Investigators began searching for incriminating evidence.
Clinton’s health plan: Clinton’s dream of universal health care package died as the bill could not get approval by resistant Republicans. The bill would have required employers to pay 80% of their employees’ medical costs, among other major changes. Several compromises were attempted by Clinton, but the issue was dead by September 1994.
"greenhouse effect": The large amount of fossil fuels burned by cars, homes, and factories has led to a rise in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide traps heat near the surface of the planet, raising its temperature. The problem is made worse by tropical deforestation, and has become a major environmental concern.
1994 Congressional election: The Republican Party, capitalizing on Clinton’s perceived inactivity, gained a majority in Congress. More than 300 GOP candidates signed a "Contract with America" pledging support of several popular initiates. Gingrich authored the contract and became Speaker of the House. Dole became the Senate majority leader.
intervention in Haiti: The term referred to Operation Restore Democracy. Supported by the Clinton administration, the plan was designed to restore President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power. The mission was successful, but Aristide did little towards turning Haiti into a democracy. Clinton later withdrew his support.
Oklahoma City bombing, 1995: On April 19, 1995 a 2½ ton bomb exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast destroyed the front section of the building, killing 68; of whom 19 were children. Officials Terry Nicoles and Timothy McVeigh were right wing militant extremists angry at the government.
Million Man March, 1995, Farrakhan: Led by the radical Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a major rally for African-Americans was held in Washington DC. Farrakhan preached the need for blacks to become active family and community members. Officials estimated 400,000-837,000 black men came. Women were discouraged from attending.
Rabin assassinated, 1995: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin was shot and killed by a Jewish settler just after speaking at a mass peace rally. The man who shot him was arrested on the scene. He acted in protest to the signing of the PLO-Israeli Peace Accord of 1993. The future is uncertain under newly elected P. Minister Netehayu.
budget showdown between Congress and the President: Negotiations between President Clinton and Congress regarding balancing the budget wrapped up in May 1997. Republicans had originally wanted a constitutional amendment specifying a balanced budget, but Clinton resisted. The agreed upon plan is a moderate compromise.