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The Post-Cold War Era

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 created a massive shift in the international balance of power and left the United States as the sole remaining superpower. Early conflicts like the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that led to the Gulf War and clashes in the newly independent Balkan states brought the United States together with new allies to solve international problems. President George H. W. Bush defined the shift as a "New World Order," and for the first time since World War II, the United States and Russia fought together on the same side of a conflict. The administrations of President William J. Clinton during the 1990s were shaped by attempts by American foreign policymakers to redefine what constituted a "threat" and what foreign policy would serve the "national interest" in the post-Cold War era. Some experts argued that the United States should work toward preventing ethnic conflict and genocide in places such as Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosovo. Others maintained that U.S. foreign policy should focus instead on preserving U.S. economic and trade interests.

Key Issues and Events

  • Panama and General Manuel Noriega, 1989
  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), 1989
  • "2+4" Talks and the Reunification of Germany, 1990
  • Dissolution of the USSR and the Establishment of Independent Republics, 1991
  • First Gulf War, 1990-1991
  • End of Apartheid, 1990-1991
  • Dissolution of Yugoslavia, 1991-1992
  • The Bosnian War, 1992-1995
  • The Somalian Civil War and UN Intervention, 1992-1993
  • Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START), 1991 and 1993
  • The Oslo Accords, 1993
  • American Invasion and Occupation of Haiti, 1994
  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), 1994
  • Northern Ireland and the Belfast Agreement, 1998
  • Kenya and Tanzania Bombings, 1998
  • The Kosovo War and NATO Intervention, 1999
  • Panama Canal returns to Panama, 1999

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