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MASON / History / HIST 370 / Who established profitable relations with more friendly europeans, not

Who established profitable relations with more friendly europeans, not

Who established profitable relations with more friendly europeans, not


School: George Mason University
Department: History
Course: War in American Society
Professor: Zayna bizri
Term: Summer 2015
Cost: 50
Name: Final Exam Review
Description: Compilation of all of the material covered in the "HIST 370- War in American Society" course, spanning from the arrival of English colonists in North America in the early 17th century to the significant presence of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their aftermath on the United States
Uploaded: 12/11/2015
25 Pages 136 Views 1 Unlocks

HIST 370- Final Exam Review: 

Who established profitable relations with more friendly europeans, notably the french, to gain access to european goods and technology?

A. A Dangerous New World, 1607-1689

∙ Early European Settlement

o Much of the motivation behind starting many of the European (particularly  English) colonies in North America was of an economic, for-profit  

tendency. Companies such as the Virginia and Massachusetts Bay  

Company saw a “new” continent full of rich resources to exploit (i.e. the  

settlement of Jamestown aimed to mine for gold to make profit for the  

Virginia Company.

o Minimal conflict occurred during these early years of European settlement  between Europeans and indigenous North Americans; this was due much  to the fact that the majority of settlers were single young men who needed  little living space because their plans to be in North America were  

In what country are the primary aims of prime minister david lloyd george going into the peace conference were centered on maintaining the integrity of the british empire and eliminating the future potential threat of germany to france and the rest of europe?

originally “short-term.”

o Treaties were in place during these early years were legal examples of this  mutual cooperation and tolerance of one another; there were still conflicts,  obviously, but they grew exponentially during the next century as  

European settlements expanded when female Europeans came over and  

the European population in North America increased.

∙ European Expansion

o As more and more Europeans came over to North America, the  

economically-motivated settlements were forced to mostly abandon their  

What is the cold war?

search for profit and needed to farm the land in order to feed their families  and communities. Don't forget about the age old question of Hiring a maid to come and clean your house is an example of what kind of process?

o This results in the, now “colonists,” encroaching on the previously written  up treaties with the Native Americans so they could expand their  

settlement borders to use the raw materials and resources in those Native  We also discuss several other topics like What are the three facts of yield curve?

American territories.

o This European mantra of superiority over the Native Americans had to do  with three aspects of indigenous societies:

1. Europeans found indigenous agricultural techniques to be  

disrespectful to the land, and so they wanted to take that land from  

them in order to show the way in which to farm “properly.”

2. The Native American gender roles dictated that men hunt for food  

while women do the farming; European traditional gender roles  

dictated that men farm while women take care of the home and  

children (hunting was viewed as a sport for the upper-class in  

Europe), thus European colonists were appalled at indigenous  

gender roles primarily because they viewed men as lazy and  Don't forget about the age old question of It is an agreement to pay the debt of another person, what is it called?

women filling an “improper” role.

3. Finally, Europeans viewed indigenous religions as the “wrong”  

method of worship, resulting in the motivation to Christianize the  

Native Americans.

4. On the whole, Europeans saw their way of life as “better” and the  

Natives’ way of life “inexcusable.”

o The 17th century included numerous conflicts between European colonists  and Native Americans in which the Europeans at first utilized the style of  warfare in which they knew (lining up in organized ranks, firing volleys  from smoothbore muskets), their central aim being to eliminate all of the  opposing forces’ troops. We also discuss several other topics like Based on a 2000 calorie diet, how many hours of energy will this food give you?

o The Native American style of fighting was quite the polar opposite, as  their warriors were the hunters, traders, and artisans of their respective  tribes and therefore the overall strategy of indigenous tribes was centered  on keeping as many of their force as possible alive.

o As a result, Native Americans adopted guerrilla tactics that aimed to  disturb their belligerents, take whatever supplies they need, and hide away  in the terrain. As the Europeans were used to the plains of Europe rather  than the forests of North America, they were not adept to applying  

regimental lines of troops and volley firing to this terrain. Conversely,  Native Americans had never experienced gunpowder and firearms of the  Europeans.

o The responses by both parties set the stage for conflict during the 18th century with colonists, and later the 19th century against the U.S.  


1. The Native Americans established profitable relations with more  

friendly Europeans, notably the French, in order to gain access to  

Europeans goods and technology. In the case of warfare, they got  

their hands on smoothbore muskets and learned to use them in the  

context of their guerrilla tactics. Having experience with bows and  Don't forget about the age old question of In what stage of motor proteins is the separation of chromosomes?

arrows, Native Americans were able to use Europeans’ own  

weapons against them.

2. In addition to not having access to professional soldiers back home due to the commencement of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648),  

colonists set up colonial militias to defend their settlements. They  

partially applied the indigenous idea of the entire community  

defending their homes, yet still wanted to fight warfare in  

European terms and struggled to adopt to the new terrain and  

countering guerrilla tactics of the Native Americans.

o In addition to having new weapons and new ideas about fighting one  another, both Europeans and Native Americans recognized each other’s  political strife with other European colonists and indigenous tribes,  

respectively, and used that to their advantage by forming economic and  political alliances to better engage in combat with their respective  


B. Colonial Conflicts, 1675-1763

∙ King Philip’s War, 1675-1676

o Metacomet, otherwise known as King Philip, despises the presence of the  British colonists on Wampanoag land, and thus attempts to unite native  tribes who historically dislike one another in this effort to expel the New  Englanders from the land.

o During the conflict, these tribes were disorganized because of the historic  distrust of one another and thus perpetrated a fairly weak war effort  against the English settlers. We also discuss several other topics like Who helped create a model of dna with watson?

o Once the settlers caught onto this and, in addition to realizing that they  would be unable to defeat hostile Native American tribes without gaining  some native allies, respond by making alliances with tribes historically  hostile to the Wampanoag. Thus, Metacomet lost against the colonists. ∙ Bacon’s Rebellion, 1676

o Nathaniel Bacon, a frontiersman in Virginia, shared the angered sentiment  of Metacomet but against the Native Americans rather than the English  and tried to convince Governor William Berkeley to use any means  necessary, including forced relocation or mass extermination, to remove  the Native Americans from “English land.”

o Since Berkeley was uncooperative and wholly unresponsive to Bacon’s  demands, Bacon ended up organizing settlers for his cause and began  attacking both hostile tribes and friendly tribes. Eventually, however,  Bacon’s forces attack only friendly tribes causing major distrust and loss  of alliances between the Virginia settlers and the regional tribes.

o On the whole, King Philip’s War and Bacon’s Rebellion had a major  impact on colonial perception of Native Americans as they solidified the  reputation of Native Americans in the minds of a majority of the colonists  as people of brutality and savagery who lack any sense or form of  civilized society.

∙ Quebec Expedition, 1711

o Having figured out the need to ally with local Native American tribes, the  English colonists ended up allying with the tribes (Oneida, Onondaga,  Seneca, Cayuga, & Mohawk) of the Iroquois Confederation of New York,  while the French settlers of present-day Canada end up allying with the  Algonquin tribes.

o These alliances culminate into two attempted raids by a coalition of  English militiamen and Iroquois allies on Quebec in 1711 which failed  due to Parliament not holding up their side of the bargain with the  colonials to provide military support; this, some historians argue, planted  the “seeds of intercolonial cooperation” as well as discontent with and  distrust of the British.

∙ The French and Indian War, 1754-1763

o Important aspects of the French and Indian War in North America include: 1. Land- British victory in the war resulted in the massive expansion  of its colonial territory in North American, conquering all former

French colonial possessions east of the Mississippi including  

present-day Canada and Florida.

2. Money- Additionally, fighting a long-term war with France not  

only in North America but in Europe, Central America and India as  

well, Great Britain came out of the war with France in massive  

financial debt.

3. Public Relations- The war saw a sharp increase in Native  

American hostilities towards the English in North America due to  

shifting alliances with and betrayals of said alliances with various  

tribes during their war effort against the French; hostilities are also  

explained by the ever-encroaching on indigenous lands by the  

British colonists.

C. The American Revolution, 1763-1783

∙ Following the results of the war with France in North America, the British  government simultaneously required the means to effectively administrate its  newly expanded empire, begin paying off its war debt, and prevent any further  hostilities with Native Americans in the region for the time being.

∙ Parliament bore much of the responsibility, and therefore cost, of the war with  France on the colonists in North America since they fought the war in North  America primarily to gain the resources in French territories for the colonists, as  well as Great Britain.

∙ This mindset resulted in a series of acts by British Parliament that began building  colonial frustration and anger with Great Britain that would culminate into the  outbreak of war in 1775:

o Navigation Acts, 17th century- series of acts that imposed regulation of  colonial trade based on the economic theory of mercantilism, favoring  Britain’s economy and disadvantaging the colonial American economies.

o Molasses Act of 1733- tax on molasses by Parliament; loosely enforced,  allowing colonial merchants to smuggle untaxed molasses into North  

America from the Caribbean.

o Proclamation Act of 1763- imposed a temporary boundary for the  colonists lining the Appalachian Mountains; attempted to be enforced with  British troops; largely ignored by the colonists.

o Sugar Act of 1764- despite halving the tax on molasses, Parliament  implemented an extremely despised tax on sugar, a staple good of the  

colonies at the time; repealed within a year.

o Stamp Act of 1765- in some respect a replacement for the Sugar Act that  was highly protested and eventually repealed.

o Quartering Act of 1765- replaced the Stamp Act which highly angered  the colonists.

o Tea Act of 1773- unlike past taxes imposed by Parliament on the colonies, Parliament refused to repeal the Tea Act; resulted in the “Boston Tea

Party” and subsequently the blockading of Boston, MA by the British  Royal Navy.

∙ Colonial outrage at Great Britain’s incessant taxation during these years  culminated into colonial governments regimenting their regional militias as well  as cooperating with their North American neighbors (other colonial  governments) in fighting what many settlers viewed as an unjustified  infringement on their way of life.

∙ This frustration brought about armed conflict in April of 1775 at Lexington and  Concord, Massachusetts, bringing about American War for Independence.  Fighting continued until a coalesced American-French victory at the Battle of  Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, although official peace terms were not agreed upon  until September of 1783 in Paris between the British and the colonials.

∙ The questions remains of how can the colonists’ victory be explained. It remains  obvious that Great Britain was the most formidable fighting force in the world at  that time, both on land and at sea. Yet the colonists had several distinct  advantages that primarily played off of Britain’s disadvantages:

o Military Tactics- By the mid-18th century, British military theory  unanimously agreed that the guerrilla tactics of Native Americans in  North America were “uncivilized” and therefore unfit, in any form, to be  used by the gentlemanly British armed forces. The colonists, however,  conceded that while it was necessary to have a standing army to fight the  British in their European-style warfare, militiamen were useful in that  they were much more open to adopting guerrilla tactics of war. Therefore,  while the Continental Army fought British troops in open fields lined up  side-by-side utilizing volley fire, colonial militias ambushed British  supply lines in uneven forest and swamp terrain throughout both the  North and the South; the Continentals charged the British head-on, while  the militia poked at them with a stick.

o Geography- The British were utterly unfamiliar with the terrain of their  North American colonies and therefore were extremely slow at adapting  their war strategy to such terrain; the colonists who fought in the war and  aided the war effort had lived in North American their whole lives and  identified as such (although many still held firm their English roots, they  had no political or socioeconomic attachment to Great Britain); thus, the  colonists managed to outdo the British in multiple instances where they  did not have the advantage because they knew the geography and what  advantages, if any, it provided them (the militia used the dense forests and  swamps to fight guerrilla warfare against the British, while the  

Continentals knew not only when to retreat but the best means of  retreating and what path to take when retreating).

o Ideology/Morale- On the whole, the war in North American was highly  unpopular among the English population basically from the get-go. Many  Brits were unable to justify spending more money and sending more

soldiers 3,000 miles overseas to die in what their minds was a foreign  

land not worth fighting long-term to hold onto. And despite the glorified  idea that the Continentals and militiamen were fighting for independence  and liberty and justice, many of them participated simply so they could  return to what their lives were before the war and before the revolution;  they wanted freedom, not necessarily freedom from Great Britain but  

freedom to live their lives without unwanted interference from the Crown.  Still, this gave enough boost to the colonial morale and allowed enough  justification in the colonists’ minds to keep on fighting until Great Britain  eventually gave.

∙ Basically, George Washington figured out how the colonies would achieve  independence from Great Britain rather quickly when he was named Commander in-Chief of the Continental Army.

∙ Being fully aware of the logistical advantages that the British had over the  colonists in terms of weaponry, soldiers, training and supplies, Washington knew  that the goal was not to defeat Britain but to prevent Britain from claiming  victory; in other words, the colonists did not have to win the war, but they needed  to not lose.

D. Preserving Independence & National Expansion, 1783-1860

∙ The Army after the Revolution

o Following victory over the British and gaining independence, the former  colonists wanted to maintain as much decentralization of the federal

government as possible to ensure the protection of American individual  rights.

o A major aspect of this protection revolved around keeping the national  army small and decentralized, relying more heavily in local and regional  militias to protect national borders and maintain peace.

o Federalists and anti-Federalists, becoming known as Republicans during  the Jefferson administration, have a serious dispute about whether to  

centralize the army to ensure national security against both foreign nations  and from Native Americans west of the Appalachian Mountains.

o Early on in U.S. history, popular opinion (both in the government and  amongst the people) supported a decentralized military and promoted state  militias as the primary line of defense and provision of security for the  new nation.

∙ War of 1812 (1812-1814)

o With the British fighting Napoleon’s forces in Europe and in dire need of  sailors to defend its waters, the Royal Navy begins impressing American  sailors (majority of whom were merchant traders). As a result, tensions  began to build between Great Britain and the United States until finally  Congress granted President James Madison a declaration of war in 1812.

o The war lasted for two years, involving attempted American invasion of  Canada and a somewhat successful British invasion of the U.S. (burning

of Washington, D.C.) as well as a handful of naval conflicts along the  Atlantic coast.

o While neither the U.S. nor Great Britain really won the war, as pre-war  conditions were established and the issue of British impressment of  American sailors had already been solved, the most significant loser in the  war were the Native Americans settled west of the Mississippi River.

o Between the American Revolution and the War of 1812, Native  Americans were able to exploit hostilities between Americans and the  other European powers (i.e. British, French, Spanish) who were still in  North America in order to prevent further expansion west of the  

Mississippi River.

o But by the end of the war, the French had sold all of their territory in  North America (with the exception of New Orleans) to the U.S. in 1803,  Spanish territory was contained to modern-day Florida until 1819, and the  British were restricted to present-day Canada by 1815.

o This presented a major problem to Native Americans as they were no  longer able to exploit these groups’ differences in their favor; they were  left to deal only with the Americans, amongst whom a strong desire to  expand westward was potent in the minds of the American people by the  end of the war and became feverous by the 1830s and 1840s when the idea  of “Manifest Destiny” entered popularity amongst the public as well as in  government.

∙ Military Expansion Westward, 1804-1848

o The first territorial acquisition of the United States that involved the  military occurred in 1803 when the Jefferson administration purchased the  Louisiana Territory from France and Jefferson appointed Capt.  Meriwether Lewis and 2nd Lt. William Clark to lead an expedition into  the newly acquired Louisiana Territory; this expedition was the first and  primary activity of the newly created division of the U.S. military, the  Corps of Discovery.

o After the end of the War of 1812, the American military shifted its focus  back to expanding westward which, in turn, continued hostilities between  the U.S. Army and Native Americans. Such conflicts included the  Seminole Wars (1814-1819, and 1835-1842), the Creek Wars (1813-1814,  and 1836), Tecumseh’s War (1811-1813), and the Black Hawk War  (1832) and were a direct result of American attempts to expand into Indian  territory west of the colonial frontier; these wars and others like it  occurred within a thirty-year period either prior to or after the War of  1812.

o Hostilities between the U.S. government and Native Americans  culminated into the Indian Removal Act of 1830 under the Andrew  Jackson administration, which gave authority to the government and the  army to “negotiate” with Native American tribes (Chickasaw, Choctaw,

Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee tribes) in the East to move west into  

Oklahoma Territory in exchange for their ancestral homelands; this  

legislation resulted in additional armed conflicts with the Native  

Americans and the Trail of Tears, one of the worst crimes against  

humanity in United States history.

o Military involvement in national expansion was highlighted following the  annexation of Texas by the United States that resulted in the Mexican

American War (1846-1848) which brought about the cession of much of  Mexican territory in the southwestern North America, achieving “Manifest  Destiny” that had motivated American expansion since the early 19th 


o The issue of slavery continuously had reared its ugly had since the  

Constitutional Convention in 1787 and, regarding statehood, had played  an extremely controversial and critical role since the Northwest Ordinance  of the same year.

o When the U.S. gained the remainder of the southwest and the Pacific  coastal region of North America as a result of its war with Mexico, it  

became almost overwhelming and certainly was a strong case of  

foreshadowing for what was to come in the next decade or so.

E. The American Civil War, 1861-1865

∙ Technology & Warfare

o The ways in which technology & warfare are intertwined and the way they  push each other to achieve their goals more effectively & efficiently.

o In the 19th century, advancements in technology had everything to do with  the Industrial Revolution (began appx. in 1750).

o In both the civilian and military sectors, advancements in infrastructure,  energy, weaponry, and medical care were amplified during the first half of  the 19th century that would play a vital role in how the Civil War would be  fought in relation to 18th century European-style strategy and tactics.

∙ Technological Advancements of the Civil War

o Infrastructure

1. Railroads

2. Telegrams

3. Canals

o Energy

1. Steam (steamships)

2. Coal (railroads/factories)

3. Water (factories)

o Weaponry

1. Rifling (muskets and artillery)

2. Percussion Cap; Minié Ball; Metallic Cartridge

3. Repeating Rifles

4. Ironclad Warships

5. Interchangeable Parts

6. Gatling Gun (1st machine gun)

7. H.L. Hunley (1st submarine)

8. Balloon Aerial Reconnaissance

o Medical Care

1. Amputations; Prosthetic Limbs

2. Anesthesia

∙ Social Forces & Political Decision

o Major social and sociopolitical questions arose during the former half of  the 19th century that formulated the buildup of tensions leading up to the  outbreak of the war:

1. Balance of Political Power- since the Constitutional Convention  of 1787, the question of whether the federal government or the  

state governments held the bulk of political power; this played a  

major role in the build-up of tensions that led to the Civil War as  many Southern state governments felt that the federal government  had too much power over the states and that the states were not  

getting enough representation in Congress.

2. Sectionalism- this political disparity regarding power, along with  other factors, invigorated the vigorously defended idea amongst  

many Americans that their primary civic allegiance lay with their  native state or region (North or South) as opposed to identifying  

oneself as an American; it is not until during the Civil War that the  modern concept of what being an American is comes into the  

public discourse and only after the Civil War does this idea start to  gather majority public support.

3. Economic Disparity- as time passed from the end of the 18th century up to the eve of the Civil War, the South became more and  more dependent on cash crop agriculture (i.e. cotton, tobacco) to  the point that the success and profit of their economy depended on  the productivity and efficiency of southern agriculture; this  

resulted in power dynamics regarding economics that justified  

pushing for more power amongst the southern states  

4. Slavery- though certainly not the only sociopolitical force that led  to the Civil War, it was undoubtedly the most significant because it  played into all of the others aforementioned:

a) Slavery was an issue at-hand regarding representation in  

Congress because the Southern states fought for, and  

received until 1865, counting their slave population in with  

their census data in order to be allotted more  

representatives in the House (3/5 Compromise)

b) Slavery played a major cultural role on sectionalist tensions  

leading to the Civil War; as culture plays a huge part in

nationalistic identity historically, the southern culture  

surrounding slavery sat at the center of sectionalism in the  

19th century.

5. Slavery was an essential aspect of the South’s agricultural  

economy as it was an inexpensive labor force to harvest its cash  


o What is important to bear in mind when discussions of why an historical  event like the American Civil War began is that all authors, including  academic scholars, have bias; though not inherently negative, all authors  interpret history in different ways.

o When a certain narrative about history is introduced and accepted by  enough people, whether or not it is relatively objective and credible, has  the potential to become historical truth, at least with a portion of the  


∙ War & Remembrance

o The way in which the United States and the American people remember  the wars the nation has engaged in has a lot to do with how Americans  treat going to war, both at the time and retrospectively.

o Regarding the Civil War, how Americans remember the events of the war  imply a strong sentiment to America’s willingness to cherish the loss of  life in war and never forget the destruction that occurred, mostly in the  southern United States (i.e. Sherman’s March to the Sea).

o Other wars in American history (i.e. Revolutionary War, Vietnam War)  invoke American desire to be seen as the non-aggressor, more precisely  the victim, in order to “provide for the common defense” rather than be  seen as a nation desiring to protect its interests by going to war in order to  

protect those interests.

o A significant part of remembering the Civil War is re-enacting; done for  many reasons (i.e. feel connection/honor ancestors who fought in the war,  educate the public about war and soldiering), re-enactment of the Civil  War and other wars allows a narrative, misleading or otherwise, to be  exposed to the public in order for critical thinking about war and its  

impact on American society.

F. Reconstruction, 1865-1877

o Following the four years of death and destruction, the issue raised following the  peace settlement between North and South and the abolition of slavery was how  the U.S. government would go about rebuilding a nation torn by civil war. o Aspects of the rebuilding of a nation:

1. Infrastructure- the detriment of war to American infrastructure,  

overwhelmingly in the South, brought about the need to repair the roads,  buildings, railroads and canals in order to provide the foundation for  

economic recovery.

2. Economy- the Reconstruction federal government aimed to reinvigorate  agriculture, industry and commerce that would reconcile pre-war  

economic disparity between the North and South and drive overall  

recovery in the United States.

3. Education- following the war and the abolition of slavery, advocacy for  free public education became more and more popular as former slaves  fought for their children to gain access to a free education.

4. Demobilization/Military Reform- many Americans following the war  desired a return to a pre-war military (small standing army & navy);  

however, returning to pre-war political aims of territorial expansion and  settlement and a combination of other factors caused the latter 19th century  to be an era of military reform, both in the army and navy, as the  

institution moved to both modernize technologically and progress  

strategically and tactically.

5. Assimilation of Freed African-Americans- arguably the most significant  issue of Reconstruction was that of figuring out how to handle the sudden  influx of millions of freed African-Americans into American society; this  caused an increase in racial tensions as racially-motivated hate groups  

such as the Ku Klux Klan formed in the South and the end of abolitionism  caused a severe drop in support of African-American civil rights in the  North. Subsequently, a period of racial strife, violence and discrimination  in the form of voting laws, grandfather clauses, poll taxes and  

gerrymandering lasted for approximately thirty years and culminated in  the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) that institutionalized  racism and segregation for over fifty years.

G. Creating a National Identity, 1865-1898

∙ A major aspect of reconciling the consequences of the Civil War by uniting North  and South in common interests and motivations for forming a new national  identity.

∙ This identity was centered on a combination of the ideologies behind Manifest  Destiny and the Monroe Doctrine that aimed to earn international prestige and  respect amongst the multiple powers of the Western world.

∙ At the heart of forming this national identity were imperialist tendencies based in  primarily two concepts:

1. Fulfillment of Manifest Destiny- Almost immediately after the end of the  Civil War, the U.S. Army continued its endeavors against Native  

American tribes in the west in order to expand into the remaining western  territories dominated by Native Americans (1865-1890), solidifying the  reservation system that effectively ended indigenous resistance to  

American expansion.

2. Economic Expansion- Utilization of the recently modernized and  

reformed navy and army, the United States, having successfully subdued  the perceived threat of Native Americans in the west, needed a new

foreign policy/national security goal: expanding the economic interests of  the nation. This gradually succeeded by first opening up commercial and  political relations with formerly isolationist nations such as Japan  

(Kanagawa Treaty- 1854) and China (Open Door Note- 1899), as well  as protecting expanding merchant interests into the Carribean (Spanish American War- 1898) and Oceania (War in the Philippines- 1898-


H. Spanish-American War, 1898

∙ The United States’ victory over Spain in the Carribean was a sign to the  international community that the United States was a nation, specifically a  military power, not to be meddled with.

∙ By enforcing victimization (“Remember the Maine”) at the hands of a European  power, the United States was able to justify instilling a foreign policy that  combined the Monroe Doctrine and an imperialist twist on Manifest Destiny in  order to create an American empire overseas that included Cuba, Puerto Rico,  Guam, Hawaii, and the Philippines.

∙ The legacy of the United States’ officially hiding behind purely humanitarian or  other apolitical motivations regarding engaging in war across the globe by  “playing the victim” would become an interesting paradoxical facet in how  American culture approaches the nation’s history of warfare as it intersects with  the economic interests of the country in other countries overseas.

I. “The White Man’s Burden”

o Following American territorial acquisitions in the Caribbean and the Pacific as a  result of its war with Spain, the United States was facing a new cultural paradigm  that would enforce the new American imperialism made up of the perceived need  for economic expansion, the pseudoscientific theory of Social Darwinism, and a  deeply rooted desire, based in the historical tendencies of nation-states, for  American civilization to expand

1. A potent symbol of this intensifying social phenomena is the infamous  poem by the British imperialist, “The White Man’s Burden”

2. Kipling’s immediate motive was to try to convince young, white  

American men to go to the war in the Philippines to suppress the  

insurrection there.

3. That being said, the poem became a political justification of both  

European and American governments for maintaining overseas empires;  from Kipling’s perspective, they believed it their duty as white Christian  men to bring European/American civilization to the “uncivilized” peoples  of the world, particularly in Asia and Africa.

J. America in World War One, 1917-1918

o Military Preparedness

1. Between the Spanish-American War and the commencement of war in  Europe in 1914, the United States looks towards a future defined by

maintaining economic interests in its newly acquired overseas colonies in  the Pacific and the Caribbean.

2. This brought about a need to look out for possible threats from European  conflicts that would spread to European colonies, particularly in Asia; this  led to a public/open commitment to isolationism by 1914 in terms of  committing to not sending troops to overseas should a major conflict arise.

3. However, this streak of neutrality was basically impossible to maintain  once war broke, as the United States was determined to keep its armed  forces out of Europe while openly maintaining trade interests with  European nations, primarily Britain and disproportionately Germany.

4. This time period, defined by both military preparedness and preserving  international neutrality, symbolizes a sort of sociocultural and political  paradox; while both the U.S government and the American people wanted  to stay out of European conflicts and affairs, there was still a societal  desire to expand American culture (i.e. values, morals, ideas) to  

“uncivilized” areas of the world. This paradox made it utterly impossible  for the United States to remain neutral, in any sense of the word, by the  time war broke out in Europe in 1914.

5. A number of factors, including but not limited to the sinking of the  Lusitania and the interception of the Zimmerman Telegram, convinced  more and more Americans that going to war on the Allied side was  important for keeping “the world safe for democracy.” After declaring war  in April of 1917 and sending mass amounts of American troops into  France by the summer of 1918, the United States, being one of the least  involved nations in the war, used the chance on the world stage to prove  itself as a world power. This new acquisition of hegemonic status would  play a major role in the decades to come.

o Paris Peace Conference, 1919

o Historical consensus asserts that the seeds of Second World War were  planted in the events of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 where the  heads of state of Britain, France, Italy, and the United States met nearly  150 times to lay out peace terms for the Central Powers, primarily  Germany, to concede to.

o However, there is significant divide amongst historians today as to  whether or not the world wars were distinct events but related, or was it  the modern Thirty Years’ War that stretched from 1914 to 1945 defined by  turmoil in Europe and boiling/bursting hostilities between the European  powers.

o Each Allied country had a specific approach to how to handle the post-war  world:

1. Britain- the primary aims of Prime Minister David Lloyd George  going into the Peace Conference were centered on maintaining the

integrity of the British Empire and eliminating the future potential  

threat of Germany to France and the rest of Europe.

2. France- having taken the most significant toll in WWI, both in  

casualties and to the country overall (economy, infrastructure),  

George Clemenceau’s primary goal during the Peace Conference  

was to demilitarize Germany to prevent the destruction of WWI  

from happening again in France.

3. Italy- Vittorio Orlando, Prime Minister of Italy, desired to gain the  territories promised to Italy in the Treaty of London in 1915 (i.e.  

Trentino, Tyrol, Trieste, Istria).

4. United States- summarized in Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” that  

aimed to solidify world peace and prevent another war AT ALL,  

not just a war in comparison to scale of WWI; included freedom of  

trade and of the seas, self-determination for former colonial  

possessions of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.

o These concessions, and the results (placing the war blame/reparations on  Germany) support the historical argument that Europe and the world were  entangled in a decades-long modern war during the early 20th century that  spanned from 1914 to 1945.

K. Changing American Social Constructs, 1918-1939

∙ The sheer scale and depth of the destructiveness of WWI resulted in both the  literal and psychological deterioration of the men in all societies involved,  including the United States.

∙ In addition to the Spanish Flu of 1919-1920, the American male population  downsized to a point unseen since the American Civil War over sixty years prior,  and those who survived the war were permanently scarred, physically or  psychologically or both.

∙ Thus, it became practical for women, both during and after the war, to partake in a  more active role in public life. This impact was exemplified in a multitude of  aspects of American society:

o Art/Music- the advent of art, particularly jazz, in the United States that  pinnacled in the Harlem Renaissance was arguably an outlet for creative  expression of the cultural characterizations associated with the “Lost  


o Literature- authors such as T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck,  William Faulkner, Erich Maria Remarque and Ernest Hemingway, who is  credited with coining the phrase “Lost Generation,” were renowned for  capturing the sentiment of those associated with the “Lost Generation.”

o Politics/Culture- the impact of the war shaped the how the American  outlook on the world around them and the subsequent divided into those  who lost all respect for sociocultural norms and values of the “Old World” and those who chose to ignore the effect the war had on those who served.  This shift brought about severe transformations in the social and political

image and role of women (i.e. 19th Amendment/women’s suffrage,  

gradually liberalized gender norms).

o Economy/Industry- with the demographic shift in the United States as a  result of the war, more and more women were entering the work force to  the point that by the peak of the Great Depression in the mid-1930s it was  more common for the woman of a family unit to be working for pay than  it was for the man to be earning money.

L. The Great Depression, 1929-1941

∙ The economic collapse following the Wall Street Crash of 1929 was did not  produce isolated results; the interdependence of the global economy, particularly  between Europe and North America, set off a chain of events that caused the  collapse of virtually the entire Western economy for over a decade.

∙ The Crash affected countries like Britain, Germany and the United States fairly  similarly in how they reacted, but what came about after each nation’s reaction  arguably set the stage for a global conflict within the coming years:

o Germany

1. Having a gradually declining economy already due to the Treaty of  Versailles dictating the payment of massive war reparations to the  

Allies, the Crash of ’29 exacerbated Germany’s presently declining  

economy to the extreme (i.e. hyperinflation, 40% unemployment

by 1933).

2. The sociocultural atmosphere that came about due to the Crash  

cemented the foundation for a charismatic WWI veteran and  

member of the German Socialist Workers (Nazi) Party, Adolf  

Hitler, to come to power in early 1933.

3. Hitler’s policies instated in Germany from 1933-1939 laid the  

groundwork for victimizing the “Aryan” race by blaming all of  

Germany’s problems on the European, but more broadly global,  

Jewish community and directing Germans’ efforts into creating a  

fascist military state that upstarted the economy by militarizing  

production and industry to be utilized in enacting Hitler’s  

imperialist tendencies during the latter 1930s.

o Britain

1. Despite being well aware of the growing threat of Nazi Germany  

by 1935, the British government had other problems to deal with,  

namely maintaining their overseas empire in India and Africa,  

which prevented them from being actively resistant to Germany  

expansion that equated to Chamberlain’s appeasement at the  

Munich Conference in 1938.

2. While unable to isolate themselves from the situation in mainland  

Europe, Britain’s geopolitical significance forced their hand in  

doing something even though it was too little, too late.

o United States

1. While having similar economic and sociocultural circumstances as  in Germany following the Crash of ’29 (i.e. mass unemployment,  

aggravated citizenry), the United States dealt with the Great  

Depression in an almost entirely opposite way than what occurred  

in Germany.

2. In fact, an interesting parallel can be drawn between how Franklin  Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and Hitler came to power in strikingly  

comparable circumstances yet took their countries in starkly  

different directions.

3. While Germany re-invigorated its industry through militarization  

in order to create jobs, the United States looked to expanding  

federal power by way of creating an economic safety net (i.e.  

Social Security providing livable wages for the elderly and  

handicapped, Works Progress Administration providing

employment for public works programs) for the American public  

that would give people enough to live off of and hold out until the  

economy re-stabilized.

4. Simply put, while Germany politically traveled far-right to  

fascism, the United States leaned left by introducing a number of  

social programs in order to relieve the public of some of the  

hardships caused by the Great Depression.

M. Rampage of Imperialism, 1931-1939

∙ The militant fascism rampant in Europe during the 1920s and 1930s brought  about expansions of the German and Italian empires, as well as the raging  nationalism in Japan that culminated in an Asiatic Empire and a war with China  by 1937:

o Germany- serious expansion began in 1936 with the remilitarization of  the Rhineland in 1936, followed by the conquest of Austria & the  

annexation of the Sudetenland (outer rim of Czechoslovakia) in 1938,  and the remainder of Czechoslovakia in 1939.

o Italy- by the end of the 1920s, Italians became more and more eager to  expand their borders and create an empire, claiming territories in North  Africa in 1932 and conquering Ethiopia through war in 1935; later, Italy  invaded and conquered Albania in 1939.

o Japan- since the mid-19th century, Japan had been militarizing its society  (modeling its army after the Prussian model and its navy after the British  model) and subsequent nationalism and imperialism fervor spread through  the Japanese population; the Asian power expanded its empire with  

relative ease, conquering Manchuria (at the time a northern province of  China) in 1931, facing minimal resistance, and engaging in outright war  with China in 1937.

N. The United States & Prequel to World War II, Early 1900s

∙ Pre-War

o Prior to the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939, the United States had been  preparing for hostilities coming from Japan in the Pacific for some time in  the 20th century in the case of “War Plan ORANGE,” officially adopted  by the Joint Army & Navy Board in 1924 although informal planning for  war with Japan had been happening as early as 1906.

o In contrast to previous plans which assumed that the United States would  have allies, “ORANGE” was predicated on the possibility that the U.S.  would be fighting Japan alone.

o Basically, “ORANGE” entailed focusing the overwhelming majority of  the Navy at its California bases to defend the West Coast of North  

America and the Panama Canal, simultaneously. Only after securing the  West Coast would the Navy send reinforcements to its holdings overseas,  namely Guam and the Philippines, to fend off Japan from the islands  

before going on the offensive against Japan in an attempt to blockade the  Japanese mainland

o Of course this changed following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in  December of 1941, at which point the Navy adopted the contending war  plan, conceived by Raymond P. Rodgers in 1911, of going on the  

offensive from the get-go via “island hopping,” or conquering Japanese  holdings in the Pacific one by one until Japan was unable to continue  

fighting due to being cut off from its raw materials necessary for engaging  in war.

∙ Early Years of the War

o Following the outbreak of war in Europe, the U.S. government’s actions  (as well as the highly positive relationship between FDR and Winston  Churchill, Prime Minister of Britain) suggest that the country’s priority  was to stay out of the war directly, while simultaneously jump-starting the  mobilization process (Selective Training and Service Act of 1940) and  providing war materials to the Allied Powers, specifically Britain (Lend Lease Act of 1941).

O. Comparing Pearl Harbor to Dutch Harbor

∙ Pearl Harbor (7 December, 1941)

o The original Japanese battle strategy for attacking Pearl Harbor, devised  by Marshal Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, was meant to be much more  devastating than the situation that was actually carried out by Japan’s  

Imperial Naval Air Force.

o Primarily, the Navy was supposed to send a second wave of fighters to the  Harbor to take out U.S. submarines and fuel depots after its first wave had  taken out the aircraft carriers and battlecruisers, where in fact the second  wave was not even sent out and the first wave was unable to hit most of  the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers because most of the carriers had already  left the harbor by the time the attack began.

o The events of Pearl Harbor are memorialized in how the overwhelming  majority of American students come to understand the significance of it,  both in the short-term with bringing the United States into the war and in  the long-term in how being in the war in Europe caused a drastic shift in  the geopolitical role that the United States would play in the many decades  to come.

∙ Dutch Harbor (3-4 June, 1942)

o Only a few months following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese  Navy sent two aircraft carriers north to launch their invasion of Alaska,  the subsequent occupation of various Aleutian Islands of Alaska would  last over a year.

∙ Comparing Education of Pearl & Dutch Harbor

o There are cultural reasons for why the overwhelming majority of  

American youth learn about Pearl Harbor while most Americans are  

completely unaware about Dutch Harbor and, more overtly, the Japanese  campaign in the Aleutian Islands:

1. Pearl Harbor is viewed as one of the most significant events in  

U.S. history as it was what brought the United States into the  

Second World War in Europe and the Pacific and, long-term,  

changed the course of its approach to foreign policy for the  

remainder of the 20th century (and arguably into the 21st century)

2. Historically, the United States government has tended to boost up  

the times when we were seen as having a positive effect on the  

world as opposed to times where we failed to protect ourselves; in  

this case, the results of Pearl Harbor regarding U.S. military action  

are viewed as necessary for the liberation of Europe and taking  

revenge against Japan, while the Japanese invasion of Alaska, the  

first time any foreign entity successfully invaded the United States  

since the British in the War of 1812, is seen as a defeat and thus  

showing weakness within the United States.

3. A more practical viewpoint dictates that Dutch Harbor and the  

Alaska front as a whole were overshadowed by the battles raging  

in the Pacific Theater around the same time (i.e. Midway)

P. Onset of the Atomic Age

∙ U.S. Industry Turning the Tide of the War

o When examining the “turning point” of the Second World War,  

characterized in this context with the United States entering the war on the  Allied side, we tend to look at it from a very Anglo-American centric  

perspective as in some deem the United States entering the war as  

guaranteeing an Allied victory in the war.

o This speaks to the fear of inevitability in studying history, as foregone  conclusions made by historians can hurt academic credibility for a  

plethora of reasons.

∙ The Atomic Bomb (Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 1945)

o The atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan, one in Hiroshima on  August 6th and another in Nagasaki on August 9th, were dropped for a  

number of reasons:

1. Militarily speaking, the United States projected that a conventional  invasion of the Japanese mainland, planned as Operation:  

Downfall, would last approximately two years and cost more than  

a million American casualties and tens of millions of Japanese  

casualties, military and civilian alike. Therefore it seems  

reasonable to assert that Truman deemed it much more efficient to  

drop the atomic bombs on Japan, avoiding any American casualties  

and severely minimizing Japanese casualties. 

2. Politically speaking, historical context suggests that a major  

motivator of the United States to drop the bombs on Japan were as  

a geopolitical warning to the Soviet Union, asserting American  

dominance in a sense, as tensions between the U.S. and the  

U.S.S.R. had been exponentially heightening since American  

entered the Second World War. 

3. Culturally speaking, dropping the bombs seemed to be,  

retrospectively at least, aligned with popular opinion. Most  

Americans had been affected by the war in some way, shape or 

form, and simply wanted it over thinking little past that. It seems  

that the survivors of that generation tell us now that they much  

prefer what happened as opposed to the American invasion of 

Japan that could have happened. 

Q. The Cold War, 1945-1991

∙ What is the Cold War?

o In some of the simplest terms, the Cold War as many Americans

remember it was a period of extreme geopolitical tensions between the  United States and the Soviet Union that brought about a number of proxy  wars (i.e. Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan), a nuclear/conventional arms  race as well as a “race to space” following the launch of Sputnik in 1957, and a world political stage dominated and motivated by the threat of  

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) that forced both the East and the  West to look for other solution while each of their nuclear arsenals loomed  over each other as the devil on their shoulders.

∙ Yalta & Potsdam, February-July 1945

o The seeds of the Cold War were planted at the Yalta (February, 1945) and  Potsdam (July, 1945) conferences in Europe between the heads of state of  Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union.

o Franklin Roosevelt (at Potsdam, Harry Truman) and Winston  

Churchill (at part of Potsdam, Clement Attlee) were largely in agreement  over how to deal with post-war Europe, specifically with the division of

former Nazi territory and how to punish, or not punish, Germany and for  long to do so or not to do so.

o Josef Stalin on the other hand was at odds with both FDR/Truman and  Churchill since he felt that Russia, having suffered the most casualties of  any nation involved in World War II and “liberated” most of Eastern  Europe formerly controlled by the Nazis, deserved severe punishment  imposed on Germany and gratuitous territorial gains in Europe once the  war ended.

o The results of both conferences were plentiful, including the formulating  of the concept that became the United Nations (UN) in 1946, the post-war  division of Europe, specifically Germany, and the establishment of the  post-war power politics in Europe and worldwide that would inevitably pit  the United States and the Soviet Union against one another moving  forward.

∙ Division & Rebuilding of Europe

o While much of Western Europe regained autonomy (i.e. France, Italy,  Belgium) at the end of World War II, the Soviet invasion of Eastern  Europe from 1942-1945 resulted in Stalin managing to seize much of the  region (i.e. parts of Poland, Rumania and Finland, as well as Latvia,  Estonia and Lithuania) and turn them into satellite states controlled by the  Soviet government.

o Germany, and Berlin, was also divided between East (U.S.S.R.) and West  (U.S., Britain and France) which would act, along with much of mainland  Europe, as the opening stage of the Cold War due to the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift, economic recovery programs of the United States  that sent billions of dollars over to multiple European national economies  in an attempt to reinvigorate those economies and re-assert Europe as a  stabilizing economic force in the world.

o The U.S.’s underlying motivations behind driving the economic recovery  of Europe had to do with preventing Soviet influence in Europe  

persuading the local populations of nations such as Greece, Italy, and  France from turning to communism by showing the peoples of those  nations the benefits of capitalism and convincing them that aligning with  that ideology is more beneficial than aligning with the Soviet’s ideology. ∙ The Korean War, 1950-1953

o The first real-world example of foreign military intervention by a U.N.  joint coalition began in 1950 when troops, led by the United States, made  their way into Korea to prevent the hostile communist regime in the north  from conquering the democratic south.

o While the first year of fighting was very much a teeter-totter between  north and south (South Korean and U.N. forces managed to advance north  towards Pyongyang multiple times while the southern capital of Seoul  changed hands between the north and south four times over the course of

three years), much of the war remained a stalemate until an armistice was  signed in 1953.

o While some historians argue that the war is one of many “forgotten”  conflicts in American history and society due to its chronological place in  U.S. military history (having happened between World War II and the  conflict in Vietnam), the conflict in Korea was certainly a significant event  at the time for it attempted to establish a precedent in Western geopolitics  that asserted its authority and capability to intervene throughout the world  to liberate the oppressed by stopping their oppressors.

o Specifically speaking to the United States’ foreign policy at the time, it  was a success in terms of it was proof that the government and military  were able to contain the spread of communism through military action, a  concept which would define much of the U.S.’s actions overseas for the  decades to come.

∙ The Vietnam War, 1954-1975

o Following the end of the Japanese occupation of Indochina in 1945, the  various peoples of the region, such as the Vietnamese headed by Ho Chi  Minh, declared independence from any Western involvement.

o For the next several years, France, Indochina’s previous colonizer,  committed itself to suppressing a populist uprising against European  colonization; the United States first committed military aid in Vietnam in  1950 to assist the French.

o France’s devastating defeat was solidified in 1954 following the Geneva  Accords, an international summit in Geneva, Switzerland which outlined  a plan for a two-state solution in Vietnam: the communist Viet Minh would govern North Vietnam and the democratic, though more accurately  “non-communist,” State of Vietnam would control South Vietnam; the last  French troops departed from Vietnam in 1956.

o In 1955, Ngo Dinh Diem succeeded Bao Dai as the head-of-state in South  Vietnam and warmly embraced U.S. support for their government, causing  heightened tensions between north and south and allowing the Viet Minh  to promote propaganda in North Vietnam accusing Diem’s southern  government of being “pro-colonial,” a sentiment that struck very strongly  with the Vietnamese people who had been dominated by colonialism for  more than fifty years.

o Diem’s assassination in 1963 further provoked such tensions to flame out  into outright escalation as Minh’s government began taking advantage of  the vulnerability of constant attempted coups in South Vietnam in order to  take the social and political advantage.

o Following an incident off the western coast of Vietnam in which on  August 2, 1964 the USS Maddox was supposedly ambushed by three  North Vietnamese torpedo boats, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the  Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which authorized U.S. military intervention in

Vietnam in order to assist "any member or protocol state of the Southeast  Asia Collective Defense Treaty.” 

o U.S. military involvement in Vietnam gradually escalated over the next  decade, hitting its peak in 1968 at over 500,000 American troops overseas. o As the war dragged on through the 1960s and into the 1970s, which  included public relations disasters such as the installation of a draft in  1969, Tet Offensive (1968), the My Lai Massacre (1968), and the  Pentagon Papers (1970) caused increasing distrust from the American  public of the U.S. government as well as intensifying dissent with military  involvement in Vietnam 

o By the time Richard M. Nixon was well into his first term, most  Americans openly opposed American military involvement in Vietnam.  The aforementioned various events and the sociopolitical atmosphere of  the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s convinced the  government that the conflict in Vietnam had already been lost.

o Nixon’s “Vietnamization” program, the seeds of which were planted at  the end of Johnson’s presidency but much of the policy being carried out  under Nixon’s administration, gradually transferred the burden of the  fighting in Vietnam over to the South Vietnamese government and armed  forces.

o By 1973, the last official American troops departed Vietnam, but it was  not until 1975 that the last Americans associated with the nation’s  embassy in Saigon, as well as many South Vietnamese refugees, fled the  country during the North Vietnamese Army’s (NVA) invasion in what  would become known as the Fall of Saigon.

∙ Influence of the Vietnam War on U.S. Society, 1970s-1990s

o Civil disobedience as it coalesced with the Vietnam War was resisting the  draft; during the late 1960s and 1970s, the generation eligible to fight, who  also were the “hippie” countercultural generation, was quite admired for  refusing to fight in an unpopular war.

o A cultural shift appeared to occur during the 1980s going into the 1990s in  which, as the countercultural generation of the 1960s aged into respectable  adults with families and jobs, more and more people who served in  Vietnam became comfortable with being open about as well as those who  did not serve started to commemorate the lives lost and openly admire the  surviving veterans of the conflict.

o By the end of the 1980s, paralleled with the rise of conservatism during  the Reagan years (1981-89) and a multitude of other social and cultural  factors, American society had begun the memorializing process after  nearly a decade of holding an antagonistic sentiment towards the Vietnam  War and that spilling over to the men and women who served.

∙ Cold War in the 1980s

o From the fear-centered Cold War society in the U.S. during the 1960s and  1970s, there is somewhat of a shift by the mid-1980s where less people  fear the Soviet Union but rather more people viewed the economic strife  and political turmoil going on in the U.S.S.R. and were starting to foresee  a future where the United States would be the sole world superpower.

o As the collapse of the Soviet Union became more and more inevitable,  both the U.S. government and the American people were increasingly  

tackling with the idea of being the only nation capable of full-time global  military intervention.

o As unrest spread throughout Africa, South America and the Middle East,  the fight against communism began to transcend any previously defined  barriers; in other words, the government and military began dealing with  non-Soviet/non-communist enemies in a military setting with anti

communist ideology still being the cornerstone of America’s military  

strategy, a problem that would build up animosity towards the United  

States, especially in the Middle East, during the 1990s.

∙ Collapse of the Soviet Union

o By the mid-1980s, the U.S.S.R. has lost the economic stability to maintain  the exertion of force in Eastern Europe and Central Asia for a number of  reasons (i.e. ineffective/unsustainable economic policies, muddy  

involvement in Afghanistan) that resulted in the gradual weakening of the  Soviet body politic.

o This gradual loss in power was hastened by the administration of Mikhail  Gorbachev, who implemented various policies (i.e. glasnost, perestroika)  that attempted to transform the Soviet Union’s economy from a  

communist one to a hybrid one, still founded on communist ideas but  

inculcating capitalist ideas into it.

o A number of events that occurred in the late 1980s (i.e. Solidarity  

Movement in Poland, defeat in Afghanistan, Helsinki Accords, fall of the  Berlin Wall) that ensured the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union in  due time.

o In 1990, Russia lost six of its satellite republics (Lithuania, Moldova,  Estonia, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia) and made no effort to stop the loss. o By Christmas Day in 1991, Gorbachev resigned as head of the U.S.S.R.  and replaced by Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first democratically elected  

president, who was elected in June of that year.

o By the start of 1992, the Soviet Union was no more, thus leaving the  United States as the sole surviving superpower of the world.

R. War & the United States Post-Cold War, 1990-Present Day

∙ Nuclear Tensions Post-Cold War

o With the Cold War having depended on the mutual cooperation between  the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in preventing the nations’ respective nuclear  arsenals from being activated, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its

respective satellite republics in Eastern Europe would bring about a major  issue for the United States and the world.

o The threat of Soviet nuclear arsenals becoming “lost” into various  developing nations in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North  Korea remains a potent threat to the United States and the world on  today’s geopolitical stage.

∙ Gulf War, 1990-1991

o With the Soviet Union dissolved, there remained a huge gap in the  geopolitical power dynamic that the United States took up rather quickly,  its first test being the conflict in the Middle East with the invasion of  Kuwait by Iraq.

o Saddam Hussein, dictator of Iraq at the time of the Gulf War, invaded  Kuwait for a number of reasons, including the presence of oil there as well  as asserting that Kuwait was an ethnic property of Iraq, representing a sort  of geopolitical slam to the United States who had a heated past with Iraq  who was an ally of the former Soviet Union and disapproved of the  American-facilitated peace between Israel and Egypt.

o Contrary to popular memory today, the Gulf War was a United Nations  coalition effort although it is true that the majority of ground troops who  participated in the ground campaign were, indeed, American.

o The aerial bombardment campaign began in January of 1991 and lasted  until the ground invasion of Kuwait by a number of American battalions in  February of 1991; the ground campaign lasted for less than 100 hours  before an armistice was declared.

o The cultural impact of the Gulf War on American society was significant  because it made great progress in deteriorating the perception of war as  “more harm than good” that spawned from American involvement in  Vietnam decades earlier.

o The relatively positive outcome of the war also shined a more positive  light on the American military, convincing many Americans that what  happened in Vietnam was not necessarily the fault of the men and women  who served in the armed forces.

∙ U.S. Military and the United Nations

o In the 1990s, the United States military supplied a substantial portion of  United Nations detachments to various unstable political situations in  Somalia (1993), Serbia and Bosnia (1995), Afghanistan and Sudan (1998),  and Yugoslavia (1999).

o Both before and after 9/11, the United States was the biggest provider of  military force for the United Nations as it remained the sole global  superpower following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

o This idea has become controversial, both within American society and in  the international community, as it has painted the United States as the  “world police” for being involved in multiple engagements around the

world despite protest from other governments in some cases, including  America’s allies and compatriots in the United Nations.

o Another factor that hinders the proper functioning of the United Nations is  the bureaucratic nature of the ordeal; contrary to popular conceptions, the  United Nations is not a governing body but rather a format for negotiation  and problem-solving for competing nations. This results in matters such as  non-voting members (i.e. Palestine, Taiwan) desiring full membership  through recognized sovereignty while established member nations (i.e.  Israel, China) hold much influence in the political atmosphere of the  U.N.’s decision making and have a vested interest in preventing those  non-member states to gaining any sort of authority in the U.N.’s dealings. ∙ War in the United States Post-9/11

o Akin to how Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and subsequent U.S.  involvement in Europe and the Pacific utterly changing the path of  American political influence in the world, al-Qaeda’s attack on New York  City in 2001 and subsequent military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan  forever changed how the United States approaches the military and foreign  intervention.

o Another similarity between the two has to do with the mass influx of  disparate pieces of information; both FDR and George W. Bush were  receiving warnings of a possible attack months before the actual events of  Pearl Harbor and 9/11,

o This led into an after-period of government suspicion of sections of its  populace (Japanese- and Muslim-Americans, respectively) that resulted in  federal action (Executive Order 9066 and the USA PATRIOT Act,  respectively).

o A potent matter of discussion in post-9/11 American society is the use of  torture, identified as “enhanced interrogation,” by the United States  government and whether or not it aligns with the values and morality of  our nation as well as whether or not it is practical and effective in  accomplishing the goals of our nation’s war on terrorism.

o This plays into how war influences American society by taking root in our  public discourse over pressing issues of the time; in the case of  

government-sanctioned torture of suspected foreign terrorists, a discussion  over the supposed morality (i.e. values and ethics) of the nation have come  under scrutiny.

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