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The United States of America since 2001

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Par   •  18 Mars 2015  •  Analyse sectorielle  •  7 266 Mots (30 Pages)  •  274 Vues

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The United States of America since 2001

1. Introduction: the USA before 9/11



Liberalism : In Europe the founding principles of liberalism are private ownership and individual responsibility, free market and free exchange. European liberals call for limited government ie limited state intervention. For example in France limited public services and the dismantling of a French social model. Liberalism in Europe is regarding as a white wing movement. In the 1930s in the USA, the meaning of liberalism was distorted. It was distorted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was a democrat. He was elected in 1933 and then he stayed in power until 1945. According to A Laurent, an historian there was « un gauchissement anglais américain puis libéraliste ». A change appeared in the 1940s because of the Great Depression which showed the failure of economic laissez-faire & resulted in social inequalities. This results social injustice, contrast with the two principles of liberalism ie liberty & equality. People became aware that state intervention was necessary for equality & freedom. This in the USA liberals became progressives and gradually associated with social democracy & even left wing movements. American liberal are in favor of big government of the well fare state & affirmative action. American liberals are criticized by conservatives and by members of the Republican Party for being too permissive. To conclude there is a king of inversion in the meaning of liberalism in Europe & in USA.

- In Europe liberalism= conservatism

- In USA conservatism =neo liberalism

US neo liberalism: state intervention from the 30s to the 60s resulted in social progress but some thinkers or political leaders highlighted the draw backs of massive state intervention & advocated the return to laissez-faire capitalism and small government. Friedrich Von Hayek, Austrian, had a major influence on Margaret Thatcher & Ronald Reagan. They consider each other as ideological soul mates. Next, Henry Hazlitt advocated laissez-faire capitalism & created one of the first American neo liberal think tanks (comité d’expert) & he had influence on RR. The other famous thinker are George Stigler & Milton Friedman : they were against state intervention in economic and social issues. Economic freedom is a source of social freedom. All this thinkers influence US policy makers in the 70s & 80s.

The neo-conservatives were in favour of preemptive war that is to say sometimes to avoid a war you have to make a war. When the soviet union collapsed, the US said that Iran, Iraq, North korea and Syria were the devil.

Neo-liberals and neo-conservatives both think that market economy will make it possible to bridge social inequalities. There are two important person for neo-liberatism: Irving Kristol and Nornam Podhoretz. This people had a major influence on foreign policy.

2) The roots of the noughties

A) Reaganism (1981 to 1989)

Ronald Reagan, a former actor had been a kind of self-made man. He supported the idea that determination and work could raise a man from rags to riches. In the 60s, he declared in a typical speech : “there is no left or right, only an up or down”. Reaganism gathered a lot of values, such as autonomy, self-help, free enterprise, individualism, liberty, morality, religion and patriotism. He was not really hard working and focused his efforts on communication, so he was called “the Great Communicator”. He was elected thanks to the development of moral conservatism after the 70s counter-culture (hippie). There were growing concerns about divorces, female activism, and homosexuality. For some Americans, Reagan embodied old-fashioned republicanism. Reagan supported large tax cut for the rich, and less social spending for the poor. His policy was known as “Reaganomics”. He said in his inaugural address: “government is no the solution to our problem, government is the problem”. He also was convinced that if companies make profit than the money will trickle down to the poor. He supported supply-side economics. If supply is boosted, capitalists will invest and create jobs, so decreases in taxes are the best way to stimulate economic expansion. If economic expansion is stimulated, than the money will trickle down to the poor.

Reagan knew how to convey optimism and confidence to the American people. He was also called the Teflon president because he never hesitated.

His foreign policy paved the way for George W. Bush's foreign policy. During the first term, he was a Cold War warmonger. He was obsessed with the Soviet Union, which he called the Evil Empire. Thanks to rearmament, the US would become a military superpower again. There was the world wide success of Rambo, and TV series such as Dallas. All these series deal with winners.

Reagan accelerated the arms race and strained the Soviet Union to the breaking point and developed the SDI (strategic defence initiative). It was a kind of I tech anti-nuclear shield over the US. This policy contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union and Reagan insisted on showing US superiority. After 1984, during his second term, he decided to appear like a peace-maker and he told Mikhail Gorbachev in Berlin to “tear down this wall”. The wall collapsed in 1989.

He gave priority to negotiations because the US was no longer behind the Soviet Union as regards the number of nuclear weapons.

B) George H Bush (1989-1993)

He was a kind of transition president, he was a republican elected in the wake of Reagan's success. He remained famous for the First Gulf War. Whereas Reagan has been an ideological president, he was not committed to any ideology. He was a diplomate, and he showed moderation. He was not really influenced by the neo-conservatives although Dick Cheney was his secretary of defence.

He was his vice-president. In 1989, the Cold War was over and the Soviet Union had collapsed. Neo-conservatives compared Saddam Hussein to Hitler and they fuelled hostility towards Iran, North Korea, and Cuba. In August in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait is an oil rich neighbour. Bush Senior managed to gather a large multinational coalition to support his Operation Desert Shield campaign. Half a million American soldiers were sent to Saudi Arabia. The UNO approved of a military


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