The American Age: United States Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad

By Walter Lafeber | Go to book overview

20
New World Order to World Disorder:
Bush and Clinton (1989-1993)

FROM DOROTHY TO LULA

"We meant to change a nation, and instead we changed a world," Ronald Reagan declared in his televised "farewell address" on January 11, 1989. "Countries across the globe are turning to free markets and free speech." The outgoing president placed this remark into historical context: "I've thought a bit of the shining 'city on a hill.' The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it [in 1630] to describe the America he imagined.... And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure and happy than it was eight years ago." 1

Some observers were not as certain. Commonweal, a Roman Catholic journal, noted that in the president's "farewell" there were "No warnings here .... Nothing about racism. Nothing about the global environment. Nothing about national addictiveness, nuclear mismanagement, homelessness, the financial IOU's we are leaving to our children. And certainly nothing about corruption in government or the growing gap between rich and poor." The respected "TRB" column in the sometimes liberal New Republic agreed: the last years of Reagan's rule were marked by "an ongoing struggle among advisers for the soul of a man who was virtually brain dead. The fact that things worked out no worse than they did is either a tribute to the institutional sturdiness of the presidency or proof of the existence of God." 2

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