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Two Great Powers on the Brink of War

After breaking relations with Cuba, which under Fidel Castro had clearly moved within the Communist orbit, the United States supported an ill-fated invasion of Cuba by anti-Castro forces. In 1962, in reaction to the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, the United States blockaded Soviet military shipments to Cuba and demanded the dismantling of Soviet bases there. The two great powers seemed on the brink of war, but within a week the USSR acceded to U.S. demands. In the meantime the United States achieved an important gain in space exploration with the orbital flight around the earth in a manned satellite by Colonel John H. Glenn. The tension of the cold war eased when, in 1963, the United States and the Soviet Union reached an accord on a limited ban of nuclear testing.

The Vietnam War

On Nov 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson was able to bring many Kennedy measures to legislative fruition. Significant progress toward racial equality was achieved. But Johnson pursued an aggressive policy, dispatching troops to the Dominican republic during disorders there and escalating American participation in the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War provoked increasing opposition at home, manifested in marches and demonstrations in which thousands of people were arrested. An impression of general lawlessness and domestic disintegration was heightened by serious race riots and various racial and political assassinations, notably those of Martin Luther King, famous fighter for the Civil Rights, and Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

The Reagan Years

Republican Ronald Reagan promised to restore American supremacy both politically and economically. Reagan's foreign policy was aggressively anti-Communist as he discarded the policy of detente employed by Nixon and Carter. He revived Cold War, referring to the Soviet Union as the "evil empire", enlarged the U.S. nuclear arsenal and suggested the Strategic Defense Initiative, a plan popularly known as "Star Wars". In 1981 Reagan imposed sanctions against Poland; he sought aid for counterrevolutionaries trying to overthrow the Marxist-oriented Government in Nicaragua; he ordered the invasion of the tiny Caribbean nation of Grenada. In 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff, killing the entire seven-person crew, including six astronauts and a civilian school-teacher. Reagan improved his image before he left office, how-ever, by agreeing to a series of arms reduction talks initiated by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachov.

Bush and Clinton

In foreign affairs George H. W. Bush was as aggressive as his predecessor. In 1989, after a U.S.-backed coup failed to oust President of Panama, Bush ordered the invasion of Panama by U.S. troops. Bush's major military action, however, was the Persian Gulf War. After Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, Bush announced the commencement of Operation Desert Shield, which included a naval and air blockade and the steady deployment of U.S. military forces to Saudi Arabia.

President Bill Clinton was generally considered a political moderate. The economy gradually improved during Clinton's first year in office. Clinton withdrew U.S. troops from Somalia and helped in reestablishing democratic rule in Haiti. In Apr., 1995, in the act of terrorism a bomb was exploded at the federal building in Oklahoma city, killing 169 people.

Check your comprehension.

1. Why did the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. appear to be on the brink of war?

2. What was America's achievement in space?

3. What eased the tension of the cold war between America and the U.S.S.R?

4. Who began withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam?

5. What policy did R. Reagan pursue?

7. What happened with the space shuttle Challenger?

8. What were President Bush's actions when Iraq invaded Kuwait?


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 1744

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