The United States since the Vietnam war study guide




The United States since the Vietnam war study guide


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The United States since the Vietnam war study guide


12.01 - Significant events in foreign policy since the Vietnam War.

• How have significant events in foreign policy since the Vietnam War impacted America and America’s role in the world?
• To what degree is the self-perception of the U.S. impacted by world opinion?
• What impact does the media have in shaping United States foreign policy?

  • Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) - in 1948, led by Yasser Arafat in an attempt for Palestinians to regain their lands that they claimed was taken by the Jews after WWII.
  • Helsinki Accords (1975) - recognized the borders of Europe, as they had been at the end of World War II, thus recognizing Soviet domination of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania)
  • Camp David Accords (1977)– President Jimmy Carter had Israel and Egypt meet to try and create peace in the Middle East.
  • After WWII the U.S. gave aid to Iran. Muslim leaders did not want Iran to become like the West, so in February 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini, an extremely traditional religious leader of Islam, overthrew the Shah (King) of Iran and instituted extremely strict laws from the Koran, outlawing anything western.
  • Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) – President Regan’s proposal in 1983 to build a satellite shield in space to intercept missiles from the USSR.
  • Iranian Hostage Crisis – Under Carter,  In November 1979 Iranians broke into the US embassy in Tehran, Iran and kidnapped 52 people. The hostages were beaten and tortured and kept for 444 days before being released.
  • Apartheid – the legal separation of people by race in South Africa. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the United States put embargos on good to try and make apartheid end. (It did in 1994).  Nelson Mandela became the president of South Africa.
  • Iran-Contra Affair (1980s) – Under Reagan, The United States sold weapons to Iranian terrorists and gave the money to Nicaraguan freedom fighters (Contras) even though Congress said not to.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev – the late 1980s Soviet leader who encouraged Eastern European Communist governments to loosen restrictions on their citizens.
  • INF Treaty – Signed by Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987, it eliminated all nuclear-armed ground ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5500 kilometers.
  • Tiananmen Square (1989) – China’s government stopped a mass student protest to be more democratic by bringing in tanks and killing thousands of protesters.
  • Fall of the Berlin Wall – in 1989 anti-communist revolts in Eastern Europe spread to East Germany where protesters tore down the Berlin Wall
  • Saddam Hussein – leader of Iraq, who attacks Iran because of Ayatollah Khomeini’s fundamentalist beliefs. Iraq (Hussein) is later invaded by the US in 1991 for its oil and relations with Kuwait. (1st War on Iraq/Persian Gulf War/1st Gulf War), and then again in 2002 for suspected Weapons of Mass Destruction. Hussein was captured and executed in late 2006.
  • Famine/Somalia and Ethiopia – The United States gave (and still gives) humanitarian aid to countries with widespread poverty. In Somalia, the United States sent in troops to help distribute food and stabilize the country. After the death of about a dozen US soldiers, President Clinton withdrew the troops from Somalia.


12.02 - Impact of recent constitutional amendments, court rulings, and federal legislation on United States’ citizens.

• How have recent constitutional amendments, court rulings, and federal legislation impacted the lives of U.S. citizens?
• Have recent government actions increased civil rights and liberties of citizens?
• To what extent did federal legislation promote equality in the last part of the 20th century?

  • Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (1971) –Said that bussing was a legal way to promote integration.
  • Title IX – law which said any federally funded program could not discriminate based on sex. This impacted many educational institutions, particularly sports teams.
  • Geraldine Ferraro – First female to run for Vice President with a large party.
  • William Rehnquist – Strict constructionist Supreme Court Justice.
  • Sandra Day O’Connor – The first woman appointed to the Supreme Court (by Ronald Reagan)
  • Texasv. Johnson (1989) – protected flag burning under the 1st amendment.
  • Clarence Thomas – an extremely conservative judge appointed to the Supreme Court by George Bush (senior).
  • Americans with Disabilities Act – made public places more accessible for the disabled.


12.03 - Impact of economic, technological, and environmental changes in the United States.

• How has America been impacted by economic, technological, and environmental changes?
• What is the price of innovation and change?
• What is the role of citizens in caring for and protecting the environment?

  • Department of Energy – Coordinates federal programs to research new energy sources and promote conservation.
  • Stagflation – When inflation and unemployment increase and the economy is stalled. This caused a recession in the 1970s.
  • WIN – “Whip Inflation Now” – Ford’s plan to reduce inflation based on peoples voluntary conservation of fuel and money.
  • Three Mile Island – Nuclear reactor meltdown in Pennsylvania which released radiation and led to improvements in nuclear plants.
  • Supply-Side economics (Reagonomics) – cut taxes to give business people and investors more money to hire more employees, produce more goods and help the economy.
  • “Trickle-down” theory – the idea that when government helps companies, they will produce more and thereby hire more people and raise salaries. The people, in turn, will have more money to spend in the economy.
  • Challenger disaster
  • NAFTA – North American Free Trade Organization – meant to open up trade between the US, Mexico, and Canada.
  • US v. Microsoft Case looked at whether or not Microsoft (founded by Bill Gates) had violated anti-trust laws.


12.04 - Impact of social, political, and cultural changes in the United States.

• To what extent have recent social, political, and cultural changes in the U.S. affected life in America?
• Have the differences in political ideologies created a more divisive society?
• What factors have contributed to shaping the social, political, and cultural identity of America?

  • New Federalism – Reagan’s plan to put more government control into the hands of the states.
  • Jimmy Carter – President from 1979-1981 during the Oil Crisis and the Iran Hostage Crisis.
  • Ronald Reagan – President 1981-1989 during the Iran-Contra Affair, the end of the Iran Hostage Crisis; he also came up with the “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative which was never launched. Reagan ran up the national debt on defensive spending.
  • New Right Coalition – “Christian Coalition” – an extremely conservative group of churches that join the Republican party.
  • Stonewall Riots – series of violent conflicts between GLBT groups and New York City Police in June 1969. They are often considered to be the catalyst for the Gay Rights Movement.
  • Graying of America – looks at how America (especially the baby boomer population) is rapidly aging. 
  • Bill Clinton – Elected in 1992 after the Republican Party was split and Ross Perot took 19% of the Republican vote. Clinton’s presidency is remembered by the whitewater and Lewinsky scandals. Al Gore (who ran for president in 2000) served as Clinton’s vice president.
  • New Democrat – Clinton’s “Centralist” coalition.
  • John McCain – Likely the Republican nominee in the 2008 Presidential election.
  • Immigration Policy Act – the current immigration policy that looks at grandfathering current immigrants into the United States.


12.05 - Impact of growing racial and ethnic diversity in American society.

• To what extent is America more racially and ethnically diverse today than at the turn of the 20th century?
• Have the changes in American society improved life in the U.S.?
• What impact has recent immigration had on the social, economic, and political culture of the US?

  • Affirmative Action - policies aimed at a historically non-dominant group (typically, minority men or women of all races) intended to promote access to education or employment. It also serves to encourage public institutions such as universities, hospitals and police forces to be more representative of the population. (This is also called reverse discrimination at times).
  • Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) – Court case which decided that the use of quotas in affirmative action programs was not allowed.
  • Green Card - an identification document issued by the United States of America affording non-citizens of that country some of the rights its citizens enjoy, sometimes with the prospect of naturalization
  • No Child Left Behind - United States federal law (Act of Congress) that reauthorized a number of federal programs aiming to improve the performance of U.S. schools by increasing the standards of accountability for states, school districts, and schools.


12.06 - Impact of twenty-first century terrorist activity on American society.

• How has the nation changed since the events of 9/11?
• How does society balance the desire to increase freedoms while maintaining national security?
• How far should the government go to secure protection for its citizens?

  • Nuclear proliferation – the spread of nuclear weapons
  • Terrorist Attacks on the US – The World Trade Center 1993, U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya bombed in 1998, and USS Cole attacked in 2000.
  • Osama bin Laden was the terrorist leader of Al-Qaeda (The terrorist organization of the Taliban government in Afghanistan and spread throughout other countries) which was behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on the NY World Trade Center Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
  • The Department of Homeland Security was created in response to the attacks of 09/11/2001 in order to coordinate government agencies in the protection of the U.S. 
  • Patriot Act – passed shortly after 9/11/2001 in order to increase domestic surveillance in order to protect Americans. Imposes on civil rights.
  • In 2002, led by President George W. Bush, the United States entered into the 2nd War on Iraq, intended to bring down Saddam Hussein because he may have Weapons of Mass Destruction. We are still in war today.
  • Colin Powell – secretary of State under George W. Bush.
  • Bush Doctrine – Foreign policy under George W. Bush and John McCain created after the September 11th attacks  which said that the United States had the right to treat countries that harbor or give aid to terrorist groups as terrorists themselves – this helped justify the invasion of Afghanistan.
  • “Axis of Evil” – Term coined by G.W. Bush in his 2002 State of the Union Address to describe governments that he accused of helping terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction.



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The United States since the Vietnam war study guide