Questionable Foreign Policy as Result of Clinton’s Economic Re-shift

Clinton’s presidency made for backdoor politics in U.S. foreign policy by overly focusing on economic issues, including globalization of a free market. The 1995 creation of the WTO with it’s international trade rules helped advance Clinton’s ideal, but did not effectively help regulate as it was supposed to. Clinton’s continuous focus on this ideal shifted the source of power from arms to pure capital, which left the military in a hazy role without clear purpose.
The military was used more and more indecisively, as the “humanitarian” effort in Haiti, compared to the lack of any in Rwanda, show. This indecisive military involvement created tension between the U.S. and those that did not welcome them, and displayed an inconsistent, unclear foreign policy. As indicated by the terrorist incident at the WTC, angry groups started retaliating where it, (now established by Clinton), hurts – the financial center. In turn, the U.S. tries to gain leverage with questionable actions based on questionable claims, and only escalates the situation.
Clinton’s globalization led to an aspect in foreign policy where countries would be so economically dependent on one another, that in order to ensure security, bailouts are necessary (as seen with Japan).

Harlan County: Gap Between Rich and Poor

The differences between the coal miners of Harlan County and the white-collar higher ups within the same companies represent the huge gap of America’s rich and poor. In addition, the almost futile efforts of the coal miners illustrate the greater struggle of America’s poor in comparison to the upper class. America isn’t the promised land of opportunity for all, just a privileged few. The perseverance of those who participated in the Brookside Strike  is fueled by the desire to be heard rather than a tiny increase in wages; they were supposed to be helpless because they were labelled so, but they proved to be able to catalyze change regardless.
The severe conditions of the poor in Harlan County was a direct result of side-supply economics’ soaring popularity in the 70’s, leading up to it’s solidification by Reagan. The blatant lack of effort by the rich to better the coal miners’ income and benefits reflected this.


“Unlike Reagan, who at least rhetorically made the spread of freedom a principle objective of American foreign policy, Bush gave higher priority to maintaining stability.”

As evident with the New World Order, Bush’s ideal was to keep what already was. The New World Order was almost a return to America’s global standing pre-Vietnam. America was always supposed to be an untouchable force. Freeman mentions how it seemed as if Bush believed history ended. Bush illustrated how prioritizing the continuation of American power would be at any cost, “spread of freedom” or not; vision was not the end goal.

Strategic Defense Initiative

“Especially frightening to Soviet officials was Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI ), a plan to develop a system to defend against ballistic missiles, which he announced in a nationally televised address two weeks after the “evil empire” speech… He had faith (not shared by many scientists) that the formidable technical challenges to stopping incoming missiles could be overcome. The Soviets saw SDI not as a defensive measure but as a prelude to an attack.”


Reagan’s SDI was clearly received as a threat to the Soviet Union. The SDI, which was created to bring resolution to an issue, became a catalyst for chaos. The paranoia triggered by the SDI led to the shooting down of the South Korean jet. That then led to Reagan labeling the act as one of “barbarism.”  Though Reagan did not initially intend for a direct confrontation with the Soviet Union, the SDI catalyzed conflict on both sides.


“But Ford destroyed any chance he had of improving public perception of the political class— and any likelihood of getting elected to the presidency in his own right— when just a month into office he gave Nixon a full pardon for any offenses he might have committed 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.”

The public’s reaction to Ford’s actions relates to the heightening of entitlement for equality that individualism brings about. “A different set of rules” for any class of people was not to be excused.  Scrutiny and ever apparent transparency of the government and leaders lead to humanization of them. The disillusionment of moral authority was a result of not only incidences coming to light, but also individualistic public opinion.

Jimmy Carter

“When during the 1976 presidential campaign Jimmy Carter spoke openly about having found Christ, it jarred a country used to more private devotion from their political leaders, with a sizable number of people unfamiliar with the idea of being “born again.” By the end of the decade , such declarations had come to seem normal, a cultural revolution, particularly outside the South, where such public professions of piety had been more common.”

Jimmy Carter was an illustration of the combination of growing individualistic ideas along with evangelistic faith. This individualism, impressed upon by the times, in addition to the sense of community that came along with born again faith resulted in “public professions of piety.” Importance in being heard was now part of being an American; it became part of the focus on self. This importance gave people the ability, or rather the justification in making known what was once private.

National Organization of Women (NOW)

“In 1966, three hundred largely female activists, frustrated with the inaction of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in countering discrimination on the basis of sex, founded the National Organization of Women (NOW) to fight for equal rights of women and improvements in their daily lives, including more equal marriages and better daycare.”

Freeman uses NOW as an illustration of women’s frustrations at the time. The creation of NOW due to the inaction of the EEOC implies that perhaps the EEOC was male dominant in power and thinking. Women needed an organization that better represented them by first hand, direct control. The creation of NOW also stressed how important it was for not just opportunities, but also on the condition of equality. Their demands for desegregated job listings show this.


Official Optimism

“Lying about the war, or at least giving the public misleading information, became routine. Johnson repeatedly hid or gave deceptive accounts of planned increases in troop strength. To justify the American intervention by portraying the Vietnamese conflict as an attack by North Vietnam against South Vietnam rather than as a civil war, his administration went as far as having the CIA create elaborate fake evidence of large-scale shipments of arms from the north to the south. Meanwhile, in Vietnam itself, military officials gave reporters misleading information, withholding anything that might bring into question official optimism.”

While Freeman mentions a couple of reasons for America’s participation in the Vietnam war, he manages to continuously come back to pride. The lies by Johnson to Americans, and by military officials show the desperation in upholding the image of undefeated power. It goes so far as to require official optimism, a placebo. The lengths that Johnson went through to fester false security was denial of the country’s political leaders’ mistakes. Deceptions of the war was to justify the loss of soldiers and the horrendous violence taking place; communism, the enemy, was a deception in itself to justify American perseverance in political pride and power.

Freedom Summer

“In 1964, Mississippi civil rights groups decided to bring northern white students to spend the summer working on a voter registration drive and help run “Freedom Schools ,” calculating that their presence would bring national publicity and perhaps federal protection to the effort, knowing from bitter experience how little ripple occurred when local blacks were the victims of violence.”

Freeman mentions the “Freedom Summer” civil rights movement in order to emphasize the fight for liberal activism in all fields. He also uses the civil rights movement as a turning point in the growth of a more militant liberal activism. The increase in aggression was necessary at the time to stand up to violent Ku Klux clan groups. Freeman stresses the increase in extreme thoughts and actions; young white activists expected violence (even death), but knew their suffering would bring about widespread attention to their cause (national publicity).  The death of the three project members on June 21 was a tragedy, but more importantly (from the greater aspect of things) a success in accomplishing what they set out to do.