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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES 04

8.5 THE AMERICAN EMPIRE, al dawlat al aamirikiyyat

By Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.

8.5.1 RISE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

British colonial settlement started in 1607M. By 1733 there were 13 colonies along the Atlantic coast whose population reached 1.5 million by 1763. The colonies were self-governing but Britain controlled trade. Native Indians had been killed by war and European diseases. The British defeated French and Spanish challenges. High taxation led to the war of independence starting in 1775. Spain and France aided the American revolutionaries to defeat British in 1781. Britain recognized American independence in 1783. The US constitution of 1789 (based on enlightenment ideas) provided for a federal system, separation of powers, and checks and balances to prevent corruption. A bill of rights was added later as an amendment. The population expanded in the 18th and 19th centuries by migration from Europe (voluntary) and Africa (involuntary). More territory was acquired in the west and the Caribbean by purchase or by war.

 

8.5.2 FROM THE CIVIL WAR TO THE FIRST EUROPEAN WAR

The US survived the civil war of 1861-1864 that was fought over slavery. The post-war era saw many political and social reforms. By 1865 all states had given white men the right to vote. The 10th amendment in 1918 extended voting rights to women above 21 years. The US underwent an economic and demographic Expansion. It acquired colonies and spheres of military influence in the Philippines, Cuba, Central and South America. The US entered the first European war on the side of the allies. During the war the government controlled the economy, newspapers were censored, and propaganda was used widely.

 

8.5.3 BETWEEN THE FIRST AND THE SECOND EUROPEAN WARS

The US adopted an isolationist policy after the First European War. Hostility to blacks and foreigners increased and immigration was restricted. The US economy was strong. Mass consumption stimulated by advertisement increased. Mass entertainment increased. Materialism was rampant and intellectuals were alienated. The stock exchange crash of 1929 and droughts led to a severe economic depression in the 1930s. The economic depression was brought to an end by the demand of goods and armaments of the second European war. President Franklin Roosevelt elected in 1932 abolished prohibition introduced in 1919 against manufacture and sale of alcohol. He introduced the New Deal that included social assistance programs. The 19th amendment was passed giving the right to vote to all adults male and female.

 

8.5.4 THE SECOND EUROPEAN WAR AND WORLD POWER STATUS

The US fought with the allies (Britain, France, Russia) against Germany and Italy. The US emerged from the war as a super power with a strong economy, a simple and aggressive culture, and a youthful and vigorous population replenished by migration. The postwar period was an era of increased prosperity, productivity, consumption, mobility, information, and entertainment. The Great Society programs of the 1960s addressed social problems. Measures were taken against racial segregation in response to the civil rights movement. The US became a military and economic power and an imperial Republic with client states all over the world. It was engaged in the cold war against Russia in the period 1945 – 1990. The war was fought using economic tools, diplomacy, espionage, threat of nuclear attack, and proxy wars in Korea, Vietnam, Greece, the Middle East, and Cuba. The cold war was ended when the Soviet Union collapsed and broke up following defeat by the mujahidiin in Afghanistan. The cold war spurred technological developments due to the arms’ race. The most dangerous part of the cold war ended in 1953 with the death of Stalin. Starting in 1954 a temporary détente because both powers feared a nuclear war In 1991 USSR crumbled and the cold war ended.

 

8.5.5 DECLINE

The seeds of decline of the US started in the US in the late 1950s. Family breakdown, alcohol and drug addiction, violence, and sexual promiscuity became major social problems. On the social front the sexual revolution and increased family breakdown became noticeable. American self-confidence was shaken by political corruption (corruption of Vice President Spiro Agnew and the Watergate scandal of 1974). US economic and military dominance was challenged by the failure in Vietnam. The 1970s was a period of increased inflation, economic and financial instability. The US went through periods of stagflation (inflation + unemployment). As a result of increased expenditure more than the gold reserves, the US left the gold standard. The new artificial economy was prone to crisis. In the 1990s the US embarked on exhausting wars in several parts of the world. The outcome of these wars threatens the economic, military, and moral ascendancy of the United States.

(c) Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. 2004