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Unipolar World and the Outside Perspective of US
I will begin my story on a personal note. Born in California because of my family backgrounds from Europe I am a combination of several cultures and languages. My father always likes to say that we are cross-cultural cosmopolitans. And we travel abroad a lot. A couple of years ago at the municipal airport of Alicante in Spain I visited the restroom. While relieving I was taken by surprise that Bush was inscribed on the inside of all the urinals. Further I noticed that many were relieving by aiming on the graffiti with a grin on their face. I thought it was weird as it was funny! I will set this awkward observation aside and focus on the subject of my essay.
The 20th century was marked by numerous global conflicts. Of these, the end of the Cold War at the dawn of the 21st impacted greatly the United States’ domestic and foreign policy. The Cold War was defined by a bi-polar system in which the two world super powers, the United States and the USSR, kept each other and their smaller “client” nations in check. The world became suddenly uni-polar, with the United States, some say, as the world’s sole superpower. Disrupting the established international balance the end of the Cold War transformed conflicts, previously based on political ideologies, to conflicts about Culture – East and West, Religion – Islam and the rest -- and Ethnicity. The conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabagh, Chechnya, etc. are a prime example. On the one hand, many nations were freed from the influence of the Soviet Union and no longer had to fear its iron fist. On the other, new problems and turmoil emerged: With no Soviet Union to look for support these newly independent governments, for example Afghanistan, stood extremely weak and exposed to easy overthrow by radical religious groupings, such as Al- Qaeda and the Taliban.
Gaining strength and increasing popular appeal the terrorist organizations were able to plan and execute world-wide coordinated attacks, such as the September 11, 2001. The latter impacted profoundly the United States, leading it to launch the so-called War on Terrorism at home and abroad. Instead of facing one well-known adversary we now have to confront multiple, some of which are not well known, enemies. The consequences of these events are many. Most have affected the country, as a whole, and each one of us individually in not much positive ways, namely:
While the United States is fighting the good fight, the course of events, especially
the war in Iraq, has hurt the United States standing throughout the Islamic
Numerous disputes and differences emerged with our Western alliances. The US image suffered major setbacks and there is a noticeable anger among many Europeans, something I saw very clearly in Spain.
There are major strains due the needs of equipping a new type of armed force capable of fighting unconventional of warfare.
Domestically, businesses and citizens have had to carry the burden of rising energy prices and heavier taxation. This has made conducting business and, not the least, the average US household’s energy, costlier.
The cost of the War on Terror has distracted funds from many important domestic social programs.
In retrospect, the implications of the New World order, which emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union, bear heavily on many aspects of the United State’s domestic and international policies.
What I tried to describe about the end of the Cold War and its repercussions I learned from the traditional media, the Internet, the books I read, etc. But the most important conclusion I reached is not from those sources. It was actually captured by a totally unrelated moment of personal experience – the “Alicante Incident.” I thought it underscores the meaning of this essay. Going back and putting all the pieces together it is, after all, not as funny as I thought it was.