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The U.S. as Superpower: Strength and Its Limits 2. Biographical section: Special Mystery Guest. History 203 June 6, 2007. “It’s Morning Again in America”. A 1984 Reagan TV commercial sums up his approach:

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The u s as superpower strength and its limits 2 biographical section special mystery guest

The U.S. as Superpower: Strength and Its Limits 2. Biographical section: Special Mystery Guest

History 203

June 6, 2007

It s morning again in america
“It’s Morning Again in America”

A 1984 Reagan TV commercial sums up his approach:

“It's morning again in America. Today more men and women will go to Work than ever before in our country's history. With interest rates at about half the record highs of 1980, nearly 2,000 families today will buy new homes, more than at any time in the past four years. This afternoon 6,500 young men and women will be married, and with inflation at less than half of what it was just four years ago, they can look forward with confidence to the future. It's morning again in America, and under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?”

View the ad: “It’s Morning Again in America” For an analysis and images from this ad, follow this link

Reagan and the new cold war
Reagan and the New Cold War



Central America and the Iran-Contra Scandals

Reagan and the “Evil Empire”

From Brezhnev to Gorbachev

“Star Wars”

Spending the Soviets to Death?

Reagan’s Berlin speech, 1987—”Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Top: Leonid Brezhnev

Below: Mikhail Gorbachev

The making of a superpower
The Making of a Superpower

  • The End of the Cold War

    • A fossilized Soviet system

    • Gorbachev and Rising Expectations

    • The Soviet disaster in Afghanistan

    • Ronald Reagan, Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”), and Economic Pressure

  • The Transformation of China: From Revolutionary Maoism to a “Socialist Market System”

    • China as a rival superpower?

Sources of american dominance
Sources of American Dominance

  • American Economic Might

  • Military Power

    • Expanded military spending

    • New military technology—the “Electronic Battlefield”

  • New media and communications technologies

  • American Popular Culture as a Global Force

The u s as superpower strength and its limits

Department of Defense Spending over Time(Constant 2007 Dollars)Sources: See

Limits of american power
Limits of American Power

  • Military Victories and “Nation Building” defeats

    • Somalia 1992-93

      • George W. Bush, Second Presidential Debate, Oct. 11, 2000 about Somalia—”[It] started off as a humanitarian mission and it changed into a nation-building mission, and that's where the mission went wrong. The mission was changed. And as a result, our nation paid a price. And so I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation-building.”

    • Haiti 1994

    • Afghanistan

    • Iraq

  • Other major powers (Russia, China, European Union) as Partners or Rivals?

Limits of power continued
Limits of Power (Continued)

  • “Blowback”: Unintended consequences of American domination

  • Weapons sales and nuclear proliferation

  • American unilateralism: Rejection of International Agreements: Global Warming, International Criminal Court, Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

  • Globalization: Is global corporate power a rival to American national power?

Globalization and national power
Globalization and National Power

  • Global corporations and transnational loyalties

    • Former CEO of Dow Chemical Company: "I have long dreamed of buying an island owned by no nation and of establishing the World Headquarters of the Dow Company on the truly neutral ground of such an island, beholden to no nation or society." 

    • Union Carbide: "It is not proper for an international corporation to put the welfare of any country in which it does business above that of any other."

    • Boeing CEO: His goal is to "rid [Boeing] of its image as an American group."

The powell doctrine
The “Powell Doctrine”

  • From his 1992 article:

    • “Is the political objective we seek to achieve important, clearly defined and understood? Have all other nonviolent policy means failed? Will military force achieve the objective? At what cost? Have the gains and risks been analyzed? How might the situation that we seek to alter, once it is altered by force, develop further and what might be the consequences?”

Powell doctrine continued
Powell Doctrine (continued)

  • “When the political objective is important, clearly defined and understood, when the risks are acceptable, and when the use of force can be effectively combined with diplomatic and economic policies, then clear and unambiguous objectives must be given to the armed forces. These objectives must be firmly linked with the political objectives. We must not, for example, send military forces into a crisis with an unclear mission they cannot accomplish….”

  • Colin Powell and the “Pottery Barn Rule”: “You break it, you own it.”

Michael jordan and the new global capitalism
Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism*

  • * The title of an excellent book by historian Walter LaFeber, from which many of my comments are drawn

  • Jordan as basketball player

    • From University of North Carolina to the NBA, 1984

    • His career record from

    • Ten NBA scoring titles, six championships with the Chicago Bulls, five-time league MVP…

    • “I think he’s God disguised as Michael Jordan.”—Larry Bird

  • The baseball interlude and return (apparently God couldn’t hit the curveball), retirement #2, return and retirement #3.

Jordan s statue at the united center chicago
Jordan’s Statue at the United Center, Chicago

  • The inscription on the statue’s base reads:

    Michael Jordan

    Chicago Bulls


    The Best There Ever Was

    The Best There Ever Will Be

Jordan and global capitalism
Jordan and Global Capitalism

  • The Globalization of Basketball

    • The NBA as Global Corporation

    • Locker Room Globalization

    • Michael Jordan, the Media and Global Celebrity

  • The Nike Connection and Air Jordans

    • Nike from Bill Bowerman’s waffle iron to global corporation

    • Phil Knight: “Michael Jordan is the greatest endorser of the twentieth century.”

    • Sneakers and “Commodity Fetishism”

    • Global labor, sweatshops and Nike

The u s as superpower strength and its limits

Michael Jordan Game-Worn USED Barons "45" Jersey

Worn by MJ during 94 Season with Birmingham Barons

Buy it now for $4500. Closes June 7, 3:24 p.m.

There are (as of Tuesday) 5015 Michael Jordan items on EBay. (LeBron James has 5264. NBA MVP Steve Nash has 516. Paris Hilton has 1162. George W. Bush has 580. Martin Luther King Jr. has 289. Albert Einstein has 226.) The Beatles, however, have 10,364.

Some websites
Some Websites

  • Some important foreign relations sites:

    • Yale Global Online

    • Foreign Policy in Focus

    • Council on Foreign Relations

  • The “Ruckus Society”—anti-globalization protest organization

  • “Sneaker Culture” blog

  • “Air 23”—Website for Michael Jordan Memorabilia (currently closed for maintenance)

  •— “Heritage” section