The period from the beginning of Reagan’s Presidency up to today covers more than a quarter of a century. However, the following events are the turning points of this period: the end of the Cold War and the end of Reagan’s Presidency, the latest economic crisis at the beginning of Obama’s Presidency, and appearing of commercial Internet providers in the late 80s. All these turning points were crucial not only for American society but for the rest of the world as well.
The end of the Cold War eased the tension, which reached its highest point in the period of Cuban Missile Crisis. People did not have to fear anymore that one day everything could be destroyed as a result of impulsive political decision. At the same time, the end of the Cold War meant fall of the Soviet Union. It was not long ago when the world was divided into two parts – countries supporting US, and countries supporting USSR. Russia lost its power and authority in the world. It gave America a chance not to look at its dangerous neighbor anymore. Communists lost their influence even in the former USSR, and no one had to fear them. Thus, the danger of the war vanished; economy of the broken USSR was so weak at that time that it was not a competitor to the USA. Americans could cut expenses on the military sector and breathe easily.
People learned a lot of lessons and the main one was that war was not the only answer to political conflicts. Alan Axelrod in his book The Real History of the Cold War: A New Look at the Past says that the Cold War is unique in the entire history of human conflict. It was the only war fought as an alternative to fighting a war, a war that would have been the end, almost certainly, of just about everything and everyone.
When the first commercial Internet providers appeared, the new Internet era started. The existence of the Internet is without any doubts a very good thing. Its positive sides are obvious: people have more opportunities for work, education and entertainment; countries’ borders are now open to every Internet user. Everything can take less time with the use of the Internet. However, for many skeptics World Web seems disturbing in the aspects of socializing, health and many others. They think that people start spending less time together, just chatting on the Internet; they also spend too much time online, which results in their poor health condition. Internet sites are always under discussion: availability of inappropriate content for children terrifies parents. However, nowadays, the progress is spreading, bringing more and more improvements to our everyday life.
When the Financial Crisis of 2007 – 2012 started, it reminded us the time of the Great Depression. Although it was not such a big collapse for economy, it had the most unpleasant consequences. Politicians count on this point and promise to solve all the problems. The authority of President Obama was undermined in the time of the crisis. Many people lost their homes, bank accounts and as a result – trust in the banking system and to the Government in a whole. It will take officials a lot of time till the trust is earned again.
One more major event took place in the period under discussion: the AIDS epidemic stroke American society. From the very beginning of its existence AIDS has been a riddle for medicine and a source of anxiety for public. Having appeared in 80s, the new virus shook American’s general confidence. Several reasons can explain this.
At first, it was a disease which literary came out of nowhere. It is still unknown how and where AIDS originated. Modern scientists say that most probably HIV evolved naturally by mutating (Udema, 2007). However, in early 80s, there were not enough proofs for this theory, and it has aroused all manner of speculation. Being at the beginning a disease of homosexuals, AIDS captured attention of government politics critics. They supposed HIV to be a specially designed tool for destroying homosexual, drug addicted and Afro-American population. The way how the AIDS question was cloaked in mystery is the first reason why Americans started being uneasy.
The fact that the information given to public did not appear trustworthy was the second reason for growing anxiety. Not many predictions about AIDS came true. One of the first media sources, which have published information about the virus, was The New York Times. An article dated July 1982 tells us about 41 registered cases of some strange cancer. The fact that cancer was found only by homosexuals eased doctors, and they informed people that there was no apparent danger to non-homosexuals from contagion. As we now know, this prediction did not come true, and cases of infection by HIV became more frequent among heterosexual people who denied having taken drugs. Furthermore, there were many cases of infection via blood transfusion.
The panic arose drastically. By mid 80s, not only homosexuals and drug-addicts were afraid of getting infection; people who led a respectable way of life could get infected. The task of the Government was to provide clear information about AIDS, which could protect society from further cases and misjudgments connected with this disease. An education campaign “Understanding AIDS” was launched in 1888. Nowadays, it is still continued by the White House ONAP programs.
The presidency of Ronald Reagan was not marked only by the anti-AIDS company. One of the most important points of Reagan’s policy was deregulation of economics and support of private sector. His policy even influences our life today, and many people say that the roots of economic crisis lie in 80s, when this policy was started. For justice’s sake it should be mentioned that it had both bad and good consequences for US economy. From one side, Reagan’s policy managed to overcome crisis phenomena, to attract foreign investments, to expand service industries. However, it was not enough to improve economic situation in a whole: as a result of measures taken, social stratification intensified as well as competition of goods from Europe and Japan. This actually resulted in the recent economic crisis, and now officials are trying to find the way to regulate economy again in order to be aware of impending problems.
The Cold War was not the only war in the period under discussion. The US took part in other wars. When talking about the war in Iraq, one should bear in mind that it did not start exactly after September 2001 attacks. Actually, it was quite a logical continuation of the Gulf War of 90-91. The series of attacks just gave the American Government a moral right (a very disputable) to invade Iraq again. This decision, however, was not made at once: it took officials about two years to weigh all the pros and cons. Considering the fact that UNO has not approved this war, no good response from international community could be expected. The war against terrorism was not a good enough explanation. Americans were accused of trying to misappropriate Iraq oil resources and of many other impartial things like supporting national war industry. President Bush’s decision to begin the war still remains the most questionable both in his career and in the modern American history.
The war in Afghanistan was also just a new phase of the old war, which started as long as 23 years before September attacks. As in the case of the Iraq War, the USA was also judged by the international society. America claimed that the aim of the war was to find the leader of international terrorist group al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. He was thought to hide in this country, and it sounded like a reasonable excuse to invade it. However, in this case, the international response was softer, which might have been depended on the fact that Afghanistan did not possess many natural resources, and America could not be judged from this point.
Nowadays, many events happen almost simultaneously, and when picturing them it is useful to remember that they can be judged impartially as not all the consequences have come yet.