Modern history

Conclusion: Technology and Terror in a Global Society

Since 1993, Americans have faced new forms of globalization, new technologies, and new modes of warfare. The computer revolution that Bill Gates helped initiate changed the way Americans gather information, communicate ideas, purchase goods, and conduct business. It has also shaped national and international conflicts. The September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon demonstrated that terrorists could use computers and digital equipment to wreak havoc on the most powerful nation in the world. At the same time, Kristen Breitweiser used the Internet to mobilize public support for the families of 9/11 victims. And Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, protesters demonstrating against various Middle East dictatorships, and the leaders of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements also used technology to inspire men and women to join their causes.

Along with the computer revolution, globalization has encouraged vast economic transformation throughout the world. Presidents as politically different as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush supported deregulation, free trade, and other policies that fostered corporate mergers that allowed businesses to reach beyond U.S. borders for cheap labor, raw materials, and markets in new and more profitable ways. While the 1990s witnessed the fruits of the new global economy, by 2008 the dangers of financial speculation and intertwined national economies became striking in the onset of the Great Recession. This economic collapse has underscored the inequalities of wealth that continue to exist and grow larger, aggravated by racial, ethnic, and gender disparities. Gripped by ongoing partisan deadlock, U.S. lawmakers have been unable to address the troublesome problems of unemployment, budget deficits, health care, global warming, immigration reform, energy consumption, and the protection of civil liberties.

Throughout its history, the United States has shown great strength in developing and adapting to new technology, with the computers of Bill Gates and other digital pioneers only the latest. At the same time, the nation has incorporated diverse populations into its midst, redefined old cultural identities and created new ones, expanded civil rights and civil liberties, extended economic opportunities, and joined other nations to fight military aggression and address common international concerns. The election of Barack Obama in 2008 shows that the nation has progressed significantly from the Reconstruction era to the present. Still, many problems remain before the United States achieves the “more perfect union” that the Founders and their successors envisioned. Ordinary Americans such as Kristen Breitweiser and many others who came before her have tried to make this country live up to its principles. The United States will have to draw on the many histories of its diverse peoples if it expects to continue to exert leadership in the world and maintain its greatness into the twenty-first century.

Chapter Review


Identify and explain the significance of each term below.

“don't ask, don't tell" (p. 762)

Contract with America (p. 763)

Personal Responsibility and Work

Opportunity Reconciliation Act (p. 763)

ethnic cleansing (p. 764)

Dayton Peace Accords (p. 764)

megachurches (p. 767)

Patriot Act (p. 769)

Bush Doctrine (p. 770)

Hurricane Katrina (p. 772)

Great Recession (p. 774)

subprime mortgages (p. 774)

Tea Party movement (p. 777)

Occupy Wall Street (p. 777)


Answer the focus questions from each section of the chapter.

1. How have computers changed life in the united states?

2. How has globalization affected business consolidation and immigration?

3. How did conflicts between Democrats and Republicans affect President Clinton's accomplishments?

4. How did the end of the Cold war shape President Clinton's foreign policies?

5. How did President Bush put compassionate conservatism into action?

6. How did the war on terror prompt u.s. leaders to rethink America's position in the world?

7. What were the causes and consequences of the Great recession?

8. What effects did the election and presidency of barack obama have on American politics and society?



• Microsoft formed


• Apple Computer Company formed


• Immigration surges from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South and East Asia


• World Wide Web comes into existence


• "Don't ask, don't tell" policy enacted


• Contract with America announced; Republicans win control of Congress


• Dayton Peace Accords


• Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act reforms welfare


• Defense of Marriage Act


• President Clinton impeached


• Al-Qaeda bombs USS Cole in Yemen


• Supreme Court rules in favor of George W. Bush in contested presidential election


• September 11 al-Qaeda attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon

• U.S. troops invade Afghanistan; Patriot Act passed


• No Child Left Behind Act passed


• War in Iraq


• Hurricane Katrina hits Gulf coast


• Great Recession begins

• Barack Obama elected president

• Tea Party movement formed


• Congress passes health care reform act


• Osama bin Laden killed by U.S. special forces

• Occupy Wall Street movement formed


• U.S. Census Bureau reports majority of nonwhite births for first time in U.S. history

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