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History As It Happens

Apr 13, 2023

The 1990s began with the collapse of the Soviet Union and expulsion of Saddam Hussein’s armies from Kuwait. As the world’s only superpower, the U.S. would intervene militarily – on humanitarian grounds – in countries most Americans knew little about: Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo (but not Rwanda). President Clinton worked with Russian president Boris Yeltsin on establishing a stable U.S.-Russia relationship. China was welcomed into the world’s rules-based trading system. Democracy and capitalism appeared to be on the march. The decade ended with Russia’s economy in ruins and Vladimir Putin in charge of the Kremlin prosecuting a brutal war in Chechnya. In this episode, historian Michael Kimmage discusses the faulty assumptions that underpinned U.S. foreign policy during the pivotal decade between the Cold War and onset of the global war on terrorism. If the past 20 years of failed war-making and nation-building in the Greater Middle East are cause for reflection, the origins of this strategic drift may be found in the decade where U.S. leaders hoped to shape a “new world order.”