“Dirty Wars” Through Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton was elected as the president of the United States in 1992 directly after George H.W. Bush. Unlike the Republican Bush, Clinton, a Democrat, was focused on changing the economic shift in the nation. Bush failed to reduce the fiscal deficit and focused on expanding international powers. Clinton on the other hand passed many reforms to aid in the reduction of the federal deficit and improve all economic qualities of the country. One main act that Clinton passed was the North American Free Trade Agreement as discussed by Freeman in Chapter 18. This allowed for a globalization of trade and a rapid expansion of the American economy, but this clearly came at a price. As a result violence had spread and terrorism resulted from the expanded economic improvements of the United States.

Dirty Wars is a documentary film the shows the true meaning of terrorism and wars in the Middle East, which can be seen as a direct result of the economic expansion of Bill Clinton. As globalization of trade occurred, many grew envious of our nation and conflicts emerged. The narrator of this film, Jeremy Scahill visits many countries in the Middle East including Afghanistan, Yemen and other countries where the U.S. military is currently stationed. Scahill travels through enemy lines without the approval of NATO and this reveals many things that us citizens did not know. Special forces such as JSOC, which is a team of highly train operatives trained to assassinate terrorist war lords across the world. However, their job does not seem to be as innocent as it seems. In the film, Scahill visits a family that was murdered by this operative team for no reason. The dead victims were allies of the United States and were celebrating a holiday prior to being killed. Scahill constantly shows the terror that the United States shows in executing their ordeals. Many quote the United States as being the true terrorists. With globalization at it’s peak the United States will not stop at any cost in expanding their empire.

George H.W. Bush

“Bush saw foreign policy rather than domestic affairs as the arena in which he would make his mark. Even there, he initially took a fairly passive stance, instituting a “pause” in Reagan’s headlong rush to improve Soviet-American relations.” (pg.410)

George H.W. Bush was elected to office in 1988 and served for one term until 1992. He was the Vice President of the United States under the Reagan Administration, but took a different approach when it came to domestic and international affairs. Reagan looked to improve the circumstances of the nation through “Reaganomics”  and many other policies, while Bush looked to expand power overseas. As Freeman makes clear in this chapter there were several conflicts that Bush found himself apart of internationally. First was the invasion of Panama in 1989 and the invasion of Kuwait after Hussein’s rapid invasion into the neighboring country in 1990. Bush would find himself in the middle of many conflicts, but the Gulf War would prove to solicit the United States power in the world especially over the Soviet Union.

Mikhail Gorbachev

“Accepting the new reality, on December 25, 1991, Gorbachev issued a decree dissolving the Soviet Union and resigned from office.” (pg. 403)

Mikhail Gorbachev was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 till 1991. He would also be the head of the state from 1988 until 1991. Gorbachev would ultimately be the person who issued the break up of the Soviet Union.  Gorbachev’s decree would eventually reorgonize many structures of the world. Many split up republics would adapt new ideologies and establish their own rights. The Cold War as Freeman describes would also eventually be over because of the Soviet Union break up. Military conflicts over the world and many tensions would also cease to exist because of the pressured break up by Gorbachev, who is still regarded as one of the world’s greatest former leaders.

“Changes” by Tupac Shakur.

     Tupac Shakur was one of raps greatest gifts. He constantly rhymed and rapped about his everyday struggles and related it to everyone around him. One of my favorite rappers, he was killed during the 1990s and was one of the rap communities greatest losses. He wishes for greater equality between the blacks and whites, but his vision is still trying to be achieved to this day. “Changes” by Tupac Shakur is one of his most famous songs from the 90s and expresses his want for more equality, but doesn’t only blame the whites for all of the hate. He is a realist and finds that black people are also for the blame and must rise up and create change themselves.
    “Changes” is based on the black person’s ongoing social problems and struggle in society. Shakur opens up the song by saying,”I’m tired of bein’ poor and even worse I’m black, my stomach hurts, so I’m lookin’ for a purse to snatch.” In saying this he expresses the problems of the black people in that they aren’t given many opportunities and have to divert to crimes to survive. Shakur also notes, “I see no changes. All I see is racist faces. Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races we under.” The overall theme is that there is still racism against the black people and that they are still low on the social hierarchy. No one cares about the black person and that is why it is challenging for them to live. Shakur wants all of the black community to unite and stop the hatred and change for the better. He states,”It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes. Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live and let’s change the way we treat each other. You see the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us to do what we gotta do, to survive.” This is inspirational as he wants a completely different outlook by black people. He believes that their actions are also to blame for the hatred and equality, so it is time for them to make a huge change.

American Empire— Chapter 13

(1) President Ford

(2) “…when just a month into office he gave Nixon a full pardon for any offense he might have commited as president. Ford’s approval rating plunged, as many people believed that he had made a sordid deal with the former president, or at least perpetuated a different set of rules for political insiders than for everyone else.” (pg.321)

(3) President Ford would take over Nixon’s role as president after the infamous Watergate Scandal. President Ford was seen as a new hope for the country, especially his family whom the American public seemed to appreciate. This however was not the case a outlined by Freeman in the text. The 1970s was a time marked of many economic problems and high distrust with the government. Nixon was pardoned by Ford, which showed the American public that their is no one that they can truly trust. The public felt as if they were on an inferior level to the government and that they were not serving them. The distrust was at an all time high. The economy was suffering as well, with very high unemployment and high inflation. It looked like the beginning of another recession soon to come. Ford was unable to make many strides through this period, something Freeman makes sure the reader is aware of as his presidency was a tumultuous struggle.

David Shmidt

American Empire— Chapter 12

(1) John Portman, Atlanta Architect 1960s

(2) ” As it nationalized, southern culture retained a rural-or faux rural-tinge, but the urban South proved influential too. Nothing better embodied this than the buildings of Atlanta architect John Portman.” (pg. 309)

(3) John Portman was responsible for the architectural revival of downtown Atlanta during the 1960s. Similar to what Freeman was establishing in this chapter, the United States was going through a revival in many areas in terms of architecture during this time. Portman helped build the Atlanta Merchandise Mart, Peachtree Center, and even a twenty two story hotel with an atrium in downtown Atlanta as can be seen in the text. He would later build a seventy-three story Peachtree Plaza Hotel, with many upgrades including elevators and restaurants. His atrium hotel would globalize throughout the world throughout the century. He was successful in building throughout the United States and even in countries such as China. This just proved to show that the 1960s was a time of rapid modernization as can be seen in this chapter.

David Shmidt

Harlan County, USA — The People

Harlan County, USA is a movie centered during the 1970s discussing the “Brookside Strike.” The movie takes place during the 1970s in Brookside Mine and Plant in Harlan County, Kentucky. It surrounds the lives of a few hundred mine workers and their wives fighting the Eastover Coal Company and the unfair working conditions that it provides. These families along with their corrupt union fight for better working conditions, salary increases and much more. The battle proves to be extremely challenging as the Duke Power Company refuses to budge and violence is seen as a result.

The strike began in June 1972 with the UMWA depicting the terrible working conditions that they were a part of. The interviews showed workers with black lung disease and no money to get through modern life, highlighting the inability of older generations to ever retire. The UMWA is corrupt, in which Yablonski fights for presidency of the UMWA and is later killed in the movie along with his family. The Duke Power Company clearly accomplishes this along with murdering (not directly) Tony Boyle, the past president as he is seen being extremely sick during the movie. These men were seen as threats to the organization. The movie also shows violence and fights between the workers and the organization. At one point there is even a strike that occurred in front of the New York Stock Exchange which exhibited the true horrors of the company as compared to the NYPD. They fight for long and finally get some of their demands, with hope of global bettering.

David Shmidt

American Empire, Chapter 10- National Organization of Women (NOW)

” The passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act encouraged women to press for equality and greater opportunity at work, at a time when their labor force participation was continuing to rise. In 1966, three hundred largely female activists, frustrated with the inaction of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act Commission (EEOC) in countering discrimination on the basis of sex, founded the National Organization of Women (NOW)…” (Freeman, pg. 262)

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 propelled a time for change in America as a whole for not only minorities, but for women as well. The National Organization of Women (NOW) fought for equal rights in the work place, equal marriages and even day care. According to the text Betty Friedan from New York was elected as the first president of the organization, but was mostly organized out of Detroit. By the year 1975, nearly half of the women worked for wages and many jobs were available because of the Vietnam War. There were still problems however, including low pay and still ongoing discrimination by men in the workplace. Not too many women were educated and performing high level jobs, but this would change in modern society. As Freeman later discusses in the chapter, NOW was never satisfied and many other movements spurred as a result for equality. One of which was the Women’s Liberation Movement, which promoted more equality. Freeman makes it important to understand that the 1960s was a time of rapid change throughout the country. All though African American activists and leaders made a huge headline, women were also a part of this dramatic change of the 1960s.

David Shmidt


American Empire, Chapter 9- National Liberation Front (NLF)

” In 1959, the northern-headquartered party gave in to the pleas from the south to begin guerrilla warfare against Diem. The following year, the communists established the National Liberation Front (NLF) as an umbrella for anti-Diem forces seeking the reunification of the country.” (Freeman, pg. 224)

The Vietnam War escalated quickly during the early 1960s and was fought in all of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. North Vietnam was supported by the communists, while Southern Vietnam was mostly anti-communist as lead by Diem. North Vietnam had started to set up secret groups such as the National Liberation From for Southern Vietnam or (NLF) which where communist groups set up in guerrilla warfare against Diem and his forces with a goal of reuniting Vietnam under one communistic political power. Although the North was mostly headed by the PAVN, many part of the NLF did substantial damage to Diem’s forces and those of the United States. Kennedy would send troops, ammunition and money to Diem after his growing concern of China’s power in the Southeastern part of Asia and the Berlin Wall. He was not willing to allow communism to spread even more on the eastern part of the world. Freeman makes the NLF a huge highlight of this chapter as they are ultimately one of the reasons that the United States would exit the war ultimately at a stand still and not succeed in promoting their politics. The author makes it easily seen that the United States along with Southern Vietnam were hopeless in fighting against the PAVN and other communist parties such as the NLF because they were fighting through guerrilla warfare and did not value their lives. Money and ammunition was stolen, ultimately the United States as a whole grew hate for the conflict and Vietnam reunited under one communistic regime in 1976.

David Shmidt