THE SHORTER VERSION 
(THE ONE ACTUALLY TESTED FROM)

A printable PDF copy of the 4-page DECADES chart
A printable PDF copy of practice test 1
A printable PDF copy of practice test 2
A printable PDF copy of practice test 3

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1900s The 20th Century starts off under the promise of unlimited prosperity (The 'Gilded Age')

There seems to be no end to the inventiveness of Western civilization’s human genius – and the material
     prosperity and political power it is able to generate
Super-rich American capitalists enjoy kingly wealth – despite the trust-busting of Roosevelt and Taft
American Progressivism and European Socialism attempt to help the working poor left behind in the race
     toward unlimited wealth
The West is pleased with its world empires – though Germany’s Emperor Wilhelm is hungry for more
Nationalist egos however draw everyone deeper into a Darwinist competition among the Western nations –
     each anxious to prove themselves to the be the most 'advanced' of all peoples

1910s A small-level Balkan conflict (1914) quickly turns itself into a drawn-out nightmare
  (the 'Great War' or World War One) because no side is willing to back down

A tragedy in Serbia (1914) sets off a military chain reaction of injured egos as Austria declares war on
     Serbia, Russia declares war on Austria, Germany on Russia, France on Germany, etc.
A stalemate quickly occurs on the Western Front which, despite the slaughter, lasts four years
Intense war-weariness finally collapses the Russian Imperial (Tsarist) Government  (‘February’ 1917)
Kerensky declares Russia to now be a Constitutional Democracy – and declares that Russia henceforth
     fights on in the Great War on the side of ‘democracy’ 
America now joins in (April 1917) as Wilson too sees the Great War as a “Crusade for Democracy”
But continuing Russian war weariness quickly undermines Kerensky’s new democracy – allowing Lenin to
     make his move (‘October’ 1917) to bring the Bolsheviks or Communists to power in Russia
Lenin pulls Russia out of the War (1917) in order to focus on building a new “workers’ paradise”
But Russia now falls into a long and bitter civil war – which kills more Russians than the Great War
The Great War ends (late 1918) with no winners – only vengeful and exhausted losers
     (though the British + French believed themselves somehow to be the 'winners')
A global Spanish flu epidemic kills more people in the last months of 1918 than the Great War did in four
     years

1920s The War creates an even greater desire of rural Westerners to return to the Christian past
   and urban Westerners to get on toward a better secular future

A 'democratic' Weimar Republic is forced upon the Germans – though they have little love for it.
The first years of the German Weimar Republic are times of civil strife and economic collapse
America retreats into a spirit of ‘isolationism,’ vowing never to get involved in a European war again
A deep economic depression hits the American farms – ten years ahead of the Great Depression
But in the American cities, a new material offering of cars, radio, home appliances, etc. makes urban life
     dazzling
Urban American culture reflects both hedonism and existentialism arising from its materialist ideals 
A rural-urban conflict erupts in America symbolized by the ‘Prohibition’ against the drinking of alcohol – 
     and by the rapid growth of urban ‘Speakeasies’ where alcohol flows freely in defiance of the ban
The conflict is also symbolized by the Evolution issue (Scopes Monkey Trail - 1925) 
In Europe the conflict is wrapped up in 
     a rural fascination with a religious cultural traditionalism (Italy: Mussolini’s ‘Fascism’) 
     an urban fascination with secular industrial socialism (Russia: Lenin’s ‘Communism’)
In Russia Stalin grabs total control over the Communist Party (late 1920s) – and then over the whole of Russian society – through a regime of terror which he institutes in order to push the country to rapid industrialization (at the expense of the impoverished countryside)
Wildly speculative investments, farm failures, and saturation of consumer markets suddenly collapse
    the American stock market (late 1929) undermining the foundations of Western capitalism 

1930s The Great Depression undercuts “capitalist” democracy and brings support for active dictatorships which promise to move life ahead more effectively – and gloriously

The collapse of American capitalism plunges the Western industrial world into a state of deep poverty and joblessness
The Depression restores the hand of rural/small-town traditionalism – and stifles urban folly
Hitler exploits this spirit of traditionalism to bring his Nazis to power in Germany in 1933
     and from there maneuvers himself into a position of total control over German societyIn Spain this cultural split precipitates a bloody civil war
     which becomes a ‘proxy war’ for other nations caught in contest of cultural wills: 
        One side (Germany and Italy) supports Franco’s Falangists (traditionalist Fascists) - the winners
        The other side (England, France, Russia) supports the Republicanists  - the losers
In Japan the militarist party ignores the pro-democracy party and suddenly attacks China (1937)
Stalin, no longer trusting the resolve of a greatly weakened England and France to stop Hitler, signs a
     treaty (the Molotov-Ribentrop Treaty) with Hitler dividing up Poland between Germany and Russia, also
     permitting Stalin to seize the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and to dominate Finland
But (to Hitler’s shock) this move on Poland precipitates a French and English declaration of war against
     Germany (September 1939); nothing however is done about Russia’s part in this affair.

1940s World War Two brings out America as a Superpower (but also Russia/the Soviet Union)

After no action by England and France – Germany attacks and quickly defeats France (June 1940)
But Hitler cannot defeat England’s air defenses (the 'Battle of Britain' begun in the summer of 1940) 
     – and redirects his efforts against Russia (June 1941) – but also failing to force Russia to surrender.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) brings America into the war; 
Hitler intensifies the situation by declaring war on America a few days later
Slowly  (1942-1945) America, England and Russia squeeze Hitler into retreat 
     and America and England push Japan back in Asia and the Pacific 
In 1945 both Germany (in May) and Japan (in August) are brought to crushing defeat
But 'victors' England and France suffer from major post-war weariness
     And the only victors still standing in any strength are America and Russia
     who now face each other in deep distrust – producing a 'Cold War' between them
Stalin takes full control (1945-1948) of  'buffer state' governments of Eastern Europe 
     – and tries (1948-1949) to force America out of Berlin (surrounded by Soviet-held territory)
America shores up the Western democracies against Russian-directed Communism
   with economic assistance (Marshall Plan) and military assistance (NATO)
But America stands by dumbfoundedly as Mao’s Communists take over China (1949)
     – a country which so recently Americans had fought hard to deliver from Japanese tyranny
And a new Labourite England surrenders its control over South Asia (India/Pakistan) - 1947

1950s The Soviet-American Cold-War deepens

Communist North Korean invades 'democratic' South Korea (June 1950) starting the Korean War
     – and Truman responds with American military assistance to South Korea
     – drawing the Chinese in on the side of North Korea (resulting in a bloody stalemate)
Both the Soviets (Russians) and Americans now possess the H-bomb (and China the A-bomb)
American fears of global Communist ambitions (early 1950s) are turned by Senator Joe McCarthy 
     into a witch hunt of virtually every American institution
American intellectuals are deeplyly offended by the McCarthy witch hunt – and develop a strong hostility
     toward the American 'Vet' middle class that seems to encourage his Anti-Communist activity 
Vet parents teach their Boomer children to resist all appeals of authoritarian Communism by challenging 
     all authority and listening only to their own inner voices
But older American youth are more absorbed with music and acne than world events
A new force to be dealt with is emerging:  the 'Third World' of Asian, African and Latin American nations
     that are moving toward total independence from from former colonial powers (including America)
In an international economic-cultural showdown with 'Godless Russian Communism,' America smugly
     showcases before the world the material blessings of 'Christian-Capitalist-Democracy'
Meanwhile Americans watch helplessly as the Soviets crush freedom uprisings in Germany (1953) + 
     Hungary (1956) – but act decisively in forcing French and English 'imperialists' out of Egypt 
     (the 'Suez Crisis' – also in 1956, at exactly the same time as the Hungarian uprising)
America is stunned by the Soviet announcement that they have successfully launched a satellite into 
     space (1957) - indicating that they are now ahead in the space race ... and have deliverable (possibly 
     nuclear-tipped) weapons that our air defenses cannot protect us from.
At the same time a confident Soviet premier Khrushchev holds out to President Eisenhower the possibility
     of a 'thaw' in the Cold War

1960s An elite-directed State begins to replace the American citizen republic

President Eisenhower finishes out his 8-year term (Jan. 1961) warning the nation about the dangers of 
     the growing economic and political influence of a huge ‘millitary-industrial complex’ 
A youthful President Kennedy inspires a political-cultural idealism in America and abroad
American youth join his Peace Corps to help bring the world to American-style democracy
Seeing blemishes at home, ML King, Kennedy and Johnson back a Civil Rights movement
To America's great horror, Kennedy is assassinated - bringing Johnson to the Presidency (Nov. 1963)
Johnson, not trusting the citizens to self-correct America's social blemishes, devises a mass of government
     programs, under the title ‘Great Society,’ to reform America 'from above'
Southeast Asia (particularly Vietnam) appears to be about to fall to Communism
     and Johnson decides to send thousands of troops to Vietnam to protect Vietnamese 'democracy'
But then the war in Vietnam drags on endlessly and the civil rights movement at home turns nasty
Boomers, now come of age as teenagers, protest that mankind’s real enemy is the 'god' of their
  parents:  'the Establishment' (American Government, Corporate Industry, Mainline Religion)
A nasty generational battle erupts (starting in late 1967) in which the Boomers challenge their parents 
      with a revolution in psychedelic music, Eastern mysticism, drugs and sex
     - mimicked in Europe by a similar rebellion of European youth against their own 'Establishments'
1968 is a year of shock:  the 'Tet' communist uprising in Vietnam, Johnson's announcement of his
     resignation, the assassination of ML. King, the assassination of Democratic Party leader Bobby Kennedy,
     and the yippie / police battle during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago
Nixon, a voice of the 'Establishment,' is elected president in 1968 - horrifying Boomers and intellectuals
The world is thrilled as America lands a man on the moon (1969)

1970s A bitter liberal-conservative rivalry embroils America’s national and international politics

Nixon backs America away from its Cold War stance (D?tente or a “backing-down”)
     opening commercial relations with China
     working out nuclear arms limitations treaties (SALT) with the Soviets 
     bringing almost all our troops home from Vietnam
But this fails to satisfy the hostility of the Boomers – who still see 'Establishment' enemies everywhere –
     especially in the White House
Another Establishment symbol, Christianity, comes under attack – and (with the help of a very Liberal US
     Supreme Court) is banished from its traditional position as the moral-intellectual foundation of American 
     culture; 'Secularism' is instead moved into that foundational position
And Nixon is uncovered by the press as a conspiring power-hungry evil genius (the 1974 Watergate scandal)
This offers Boomers and leftist national press the opportunity to depose Nixon and secure ultimate victory
     over the 'Establishment'
This leaves the Ford White House powerless and Congress on a quest for “new democracy” 
     playing into the hedonistic instincts of a rapidly strengthening American Liberal Left
A “Power-is-evil” mentality in Congress undercuts all further support of the South Vietnam Government 
     which soon falls to the North Vietnamese Communists (1975)
This then drags down neighboring Cambodia into a orgy of Communist slaughter (the Killing Fields) in which
     hundreds of thousands of Cambodians are slaughtered for not being sufficiently ‘revolutionary’ in spirit
This same power-is-evil mentality enables Carter to gain the White House (1977) with a “new morality”:
     America active in the world not on the basis of its power, but instead on the basis of its moral or
     ‘democratic’ high-mindedness!
Carter’s 'new morality' undermines the troubled regime of America’s major ally in the Muslim world,
     the Shah of Iran, and helps bring to power in Iran a bitterly anti-US Shi’ite theocracy
     which in turn seeks to topple other secular, proto-Western Middle Eastern governments

1980s The 'Reagan Era' marks a decade of a return to more traditional values

Carter idealism self-destructs economically and politically – opening the way for a strong-willed Reagan 
     (of the old “Vet” generation) to enter the White House in 1981
Reagan pursues American foreign relations negotiating from strength (not “moral purity”)
Russia tries to keep up – but begins to break down from built-in economic inefficiency
Gorbachev tries to reform the Russian Communist system – but merely collapses it instead 
     not only in Russia but in all the former Stalin-dominated countries of East Europe (1989)
An effort of Democrats to bring down another Republican presidency around the ‘Iran-Contra’ scandal 
     fails to win the support of Americans who do not want to see Reagan ‘Watergated’
Meanwhile America initiates a veritable revolution in communications technology
     especially based on the personal computer
With the Boomers now in positions of social influence, a cultural revolution takes place along a number of
     fronts –  united by a single vision of “ the enemy”:  the straight, Anglo, Christian White male 
     who has so long directed American life - but is now viewed as the chief of all oppressors
Traditional (Christian) America fights back, with the issues of abortion, prayer in public life, Christian
     schooling and the homosexual life-style the major hot buttons

1990s The sole Superpower enjoys a decade of incredible material prosperity – and cultural hedonism

Bush (Senior)’s victory (1991) against Iraq in the Gulf War puts Vietnam defeatism behind America
     restoring a sense of America’s rightful place as a sole superpower leading the world
But economic difficulties oust Bush and bring in the Boomer Clinton to the White House (1993)
Clinton undertakes reforms (a national health plan and homosexuality in the military) which explode in his
     face and which he is forced to abandon.
Congressional Republican leader Gingrich, with his “Contract for America,” channels traditionalist outrage 
     into a  Republican takeover of Congress (1994) - moving a “politically flexible” Clinton to take up much
     of Gingrich’s program himself – and thus steal Gingrich’s political thunder
Brutal 'ethnic cleansing' in Bosnia and Kosovo (former Yugoslavia) refine America’s role as world policeman
The world watches as Yeltsin’s Russia struggles with corruption to find stability as a 'democracy'
A 'morally flexible' Clinton gets caught in a sex scandal – but manages to survive politically (1999)
An ongoing computer revolution continues to bring unprecedented prosperity to many Americans

2000s Muslim terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center focuses Bush Jr.’s presidency
  - producing military/diplomatic resolve to ‘remake’ Afghanistan and Iraq politically and culturally 
  - also helping to plunge America into deep indebtedness

Bush (Junior)’s diplomatic and military response to al-Qaeda terrorism (9-11) inspires world sympathy,
     confidence and support (2001)
But the strong push of his Neo-Conservative advisors Cheney and Rumsfeld for ‘democratic nation-building’ 
     in Afghanistan and Iraq undermines that same global support, especially with Bush’s decision to invade
     Iraq in order to topple the Saddam Hussein Government (1993)
Bush tries to turn the running of an agonizingly long war over to the Iraqis – but Arab Sunni and Shi’ite
     hatreds and Kurdish independent-mindedness produce such deep political schisms that ‘democratic’ 
     self-government does not automatically spring forth in Iraq; America is now stuck there trying to hold
     the country together (Americans finally leaving at the end of 2011)
China’s economy continues to boom, presenting a challenge for the world’s resources + America’s economic
     dominance in the world
A ballooning American government deficit takes on monumental proportions 
  (growing from $5 trillion to well over $10  trillion in the 8 years of the Bush presidency)
A near financial meltdown of a number of major American banks pushes the international financial world to
     the brink of collapse (2008); but a US government ‘bailout’ in the last days of the Bush presidency
     provides an expensive a rescue of the banks.
Obama, a curiously inexperienced political celebrity, takes over the White House (early 2009)
The American economy does not immediately recover from the financial crisis, despite vast amounts of Bush
     and Obama government funding to ‘stimulate’ the economy; this increases greatly the national debt
Putin comes to power in Russia (2000) to put the country back on a more traditional authoritarian political
     course – to the distress of America

2010s Under Obama, America struggles to locate its national identity at home and to find its way abroad in a multipolar political, economic and cultural universe

A Democrat-controlled Congress rams through Obama’s national health program in a clear demonstration 
     that the Obama White House is indeed fully in charge in America. 
China and America are locked in a creditor-debtor relationship that complicates the economic policy of 
     both countries
Europe has a major debt crisis of its own, straining relations between creditor Germany and several 
     European debtor nations (most notably Greece) - threatening the unity of the European Union
Pro-Western governments in the Middle East topple during the ‘Arab Spring’ (2011)... bringing to power 
     conservative (anti-Western) Muslim governments
Iran and North Korea push ahead with plans to become nuclear powers; America has huge difficulties 
     getting other major powers (eg., China and Russia) to help stop such development
Osama bin Laden is finally killed by Navy SEALs in Pakistan (May 2011)
Obama is re-elected in a race with the Republican Romney (November 2012)
The American debt climbs to $16.5 trillion by the end of Obama’s 1st term (January 2013)

THE LONGER VERSION

1900s – The last of the 'Gilded Age'

The ‘Gilded Age’:  an unprecedented age of glamor and splendor – not only for the West's monarchs and aristocrats but also for its industrial-urban upper-middle class.

But European peasants are feeling the pinch of population growth and land shortage – relieved only in part by moving to America, where, with the last of the Indian lands on the ‘frontier’ being settled, cheap land is now also in short supply; there they are forced to work in grim iron and coal mines, steel plants, slaughter houses, etc. – or find homes in crowded urban slums. 

The hardships of the working class stir the sympathies of progressivists, socialists and communists.

Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Taft go ‘trust-busting’ to break up the big business monopolies that are taking advantage of the surplus of laborers by keeping workers wages at poverty levels.

Class war in the Western world is avoided by focusing national hopes and dreams outward, to the challenge of national imperialism abroad, to Asia, Africa, the Middle East and even Latin America

The West is proud of its world empires – though Germany's Wilhelm is hungry for more

 1910s – The ‘Great War’ (World War One)

A tragedy in Serbia sets off a chain of reactions as Austria attacks Serbia, pulling in Russia against Austria, which pulls in Germany against Russia, which pulls in France against Germany, which attacks France through Belgium, which pulls in England – starting World War One (Aug. 1914)

But the war on the Western Front stalemates in northern France just north of Paris and in Western Belgium, forcing enemies to dig into unmovable positions – which are shelled and bombed mercilessly resulting in a massive loss of life; the misery endures, year after year.

On the Eastern Front the battle is more mobile, with battle lines moving back and forth – but also with a massive loss of life.  Russia suffers the most, putting most of her farmers and laborers on the front lines, resulting in a lack of food, clothing and military supplies.

Intense war weariness collapses the Russian Tsarist government ('February' 1917), which is replaced by Kerensky's Constitutional Democracy, which nonetheless continues in the war, bringing about a second ('October') revolution which brings Lenin and the Bolsheviks to power and plunges Russia into a long and bloody civil war (1917-1921) which the Bolsheviks win

Seeing Russia with a new ‘democratic’ government, US President Wilson is ready to bring America into the War (April 1917) in order to make the ‘Great War’ a ‘Crusade for Democracy.’

The Germans attempt a last massive push for Paris before the Americans can arrive in great numbers – but fail to reach their objective and find themselves exhausted.  When large numbers of American troops arrive in the spring of 1918 the Germans fall back in retreat.

Wilson gets an ‘armistice’ (truce), ending the Great War (November 1918) – with no true winners, only vengeful and exhausted losers (though the British + French believe themselves somehow to be the ‘winners’).

Wilson attempts to negotiate a fair end to the slaughter with an Armistice – but fails to connect American power with American diplomacy – and the English and French take the opportunity to pounce upon the exhausted Germans to wreak an expensive revenge (which merely sets the scene for a return engagement 20 years later in the form of World War II)

1920s – The ‘Roaring Twenties’

This getting on with life translates itself in the rural areas of Europe and America into a deep desire of rural Westerners to return to the past – especially as economic hard times set in after the War 

In the cities it takes the form of a deep desire to get on toward a better future – a future promising vast new wealth (radios, cars, appliances), more leisure, more excitement and very much more personal freedom – and a kind of mindless regard for life summed up as ‘Existentialism’

In America the rural-urban cultural divide is deepened by a cultural war over:
  1) basic morality (focused on the use of alcohol:  Prohibition vs. the urban “Speakeasy”)
  2) scientific or secular Truth vs. Biblical Truth, focused on the 'evolution' issue and climaxed in
   the Scopes 'Monkey Trial' - 1925)

In Europe the conflict is wrapped up in  a rural fascination with a religious-cultural traditionalism
 (Italy: 'Fascism') and an urban fascination with secular industrial socialism (Russia: 'Communism')

In Asia the War and Wilson's Idealism stir post-war fires of anti-colonial nationalism.  In China a modernizing nationalist movement takes shape in the early 1920s around the leadership of Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his Kuomintang (Nationalist) Party.  In India, the former British lawyer Gandhi assumes the character of an Indian mystic and organizes a nationalist campaign urging Indians not to cooperate with British authorities, thereby forcing the British to ‘Quit India.’  Japan, already well down the nationalist and modernization road, tends to identify itself as ‘Western’ and moves to adapt itself more closely to the Western (democratic) political and social model.

A spirit of pacifism leads to a number of naval conferences (notably Washington: 1921-22 and London 1930) cutting back on the size of the British, American, Japanese, French and Italian navies (the Germans had already had their war-making powers greatly reduced) and the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 in which some 65 nations agree to outlaw war as a means of conducting foreign policy! 

In Russia by the late 1920s Stalin holds total control over the Communist Party – and over  the whole of Russian society – through a regime of terror – born of his own personal paranoia and his desire to push the country to rapid industrialization (at the expense of the impoverished countryside – and anyone else who would dare oppose him)

Wildly speculative investments, farm failures, and saturation of consumer market suddenly collapse the stock market and bring down the foundations of Western capitalism 

1930s – Depression and Fascist dictatorship

The entire West is collapsed into a state of deep poverty and joblessness (the Great Depression) – stirring a rural reaction of “I told you so” – but stiffening the character of America nonetheless

Hitler exploits the Depression and this spirit of traditionalism to bring his Nazis to power in Germany in 1933 and from there maneuvers himself into a position of total control over German society

In Russia, millions of people (mostly farmers) die of starvation delivering all their food to Stalin's new industrial society, in accordance with his ‘Five-Year Plan’ of industrial development

A bloody cultural war which erupts in Spain (second half of the 1930s) becomes a proxy war for others: Germany and Italy supporting Franco's traditionalist Fascism (winners); England, France, and Russia supporting Republicanism (losers)

In the north of China the Japanese are becoming increasingly aggressive against the Chinese.  In July of 1937 the Japanese invade south into China, quickly occupying most of coastal China in the process.  They destroy the huge commercial center of Shanghai and brutalize the population of the Nationalist capital Nanking (Nanjing).  The world does little in response to this outrage.

In March of 1938 Hitler's Nazis successfully pull Austria into his expanded 3rd or Nazi Reich (Empire) – again with no international opposition.  In September (1938) English Prime Minister Chamberlain agrees to let Germany seize the German-speaking borderlands (Sudetenland) of Czechoslovakia – on Hitler's promise that this was all of Czechoslovakia that he wants.  But in March of 1939 his Nazis overrun the rest of Czechoslovakia – and Chamberlain, sensing that Poland is next, threatens Germany with war if Hitler grabs Poland. 

But in August Hitler signs a secret pact with Russia's Stalin (the Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty), the two agreeing to split up Poland between them (Stalin hoping thereby to redirect Hitler's ambitions westward toward France).  When at the end of August Hitler moves into Poland to take his share of the split, England declares war on Germany [Russia's hand in the aggression is at first not understood – then overlooked ].  Russia also overruns the Baltic states and attacks Finland – bringing condemnation but no action from the West.  Mussolini, not to be left out of the fun, invades little Albania.  World War Two has begun in Europe.  America passes the Neutrality Act (November), staying out of the war.

1940s – World War Two and the onset of the Cold War

After a winter of no action by England and France – Germany attacks (spring 1940) and quickly defeats Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium – and France!  Mussolini declares war on France just as France is about to fall. Ultimately France is divided in two: the northern 2/3s of the country coming under direct German control; the southern 1/3, under the presidency of P?tain, being allowed to exist as ‘Vichy France.’ 

Hitler's attempt to defeat England (Battle of Britain - summer 1940) fails in the air. 

Hitler decides to suddenly invade Russia (June of 1941), advancing quickly 400 miles into Russia.  But then the Russians are able to slow down the German advance just outside Moscow and Leningrad as the winter sets in. 

With Gen. Tojo as the new Japanese premier, the Japanese decide to destroy the US Pacific naval fleet at Pearl Harbor (December) in the hopes of breaking America's will to oppose Japan in China.  America declares war on Japan – and Hitler replies by declaring war on America as part of Germany's treaty of alliance with Japan.

The next year (1942) the Germans head toward Stalingrad in southern Russia but are stopped there.  With another bad winter and the loss of a whole German army, Germany begins to retreat.

In 1943 the British and Americans drive the Germans from North Africa and then invade Mussolini's Italy from the south; the Germans take over the opposition to the British and Americans in Italy

In 1944 Americans and British open up a Western front in France against the Germans

Slowly America and England (and members of the English Empire or Commonwealth) in the West and Russia in the East squeeze Hitler into retreat – and America and England push Japan back in Asia and the Pacific 

In 1945 both Germany (May) and Japan (August) are brought to complete defeat

This thoroughly nasty war leaves only America and Russia remaining in some kind of strength; they now face each other in deep distrust – producing a ‘Cold War’ between them

Russia takes control of Eastern Europe, placing Stalinists in command in every country behind the ‘Iron Curtain’

America shores up the Western democracies against Russian-directed Communism with the Truman Doctrine (1946), promising American military assistance for governments fighting (Communist) insurgents; the Marshall Plan (1948), offering economic assistance to war-torn countries in (Western) Europe; the Berlin Airlift (1948-1949) bringing food and supplies into Berlin when the Soviets tried to squeeze the West out of its position in the Western part of the city; and NATO (1949), a military alliance (with America, France, England, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Canada) formed against (Russian-Soviet) aggression 

Meanwhile a Labourite English government begins to abandon England's global positions:  India is given independence – setting off a murderous round of Hindu-Muslim ethnic cleansing; England abandons Palestine – also setting off a long and bloody (and continuous) Jewish-Arab hostility as Israel establishes itself on formerly Palestinian land (1948)

America pressures its Dutch ally to get rid of its ‘imperialist’ holdings in Asia (Indonesia - 1949)

To America's great shock Mao's Communists take control in China (1949)

In 1949 the Soviets explode their own atomic bomb – and Americans suspect that even Americans in high places might have helped the Soviets in this development.  A ‘Red Scare’ develops – aimed particularly at ‘fancy’ intellectuals suspected as having once been caught up in Communist idealism (largely during the Great Depression)

1950s – Raging Cold War Idealism

The Soviet-American Cold-War deepens as Communist North Korea invades ‘democratic’ South Korea (1950) – and Truman responds with American military assistance to South Korea – which in turn draws the Chinese in on the side of North Korea (resulting in a bloody stalemate); cease-fire or Armistice brings the war to a halt in 1953

Both the Soviets and Americans now possess the H-bomb (and China the A-bomb)

American fears of global Communist ambitions (early-mid 1950s) are turned by Senator Joe McCarthy into a witch hunt of virtually every American institution – including even the US Army; he largely succeeds only in totally alienating American intellectuals from middle class culture, helping create a huge cultural divide that still haunts America to this day.

The Soviets crush uprisings in Germany (1953) and Hungary (1956) – while America does nothing;
yet America forces its ‘imperialist’ French and English allies out of the Middle East in 1956 during the ‘Suez Crisis’

In an economic-cultural showdown with 'Godless Russian Communism,' America smugly showcases the material blessings of 'Christian-Capitalist-Democracy' (and adds ‘under God’ to the pledge)

American parents prepare their ‘Boomer’ children to resist all potential appeals of authoritarian Communism by teaching them to challenge all authority and listen only to their own ‘inner voices’; unknowingly, they have created a monster.
But older American youth are more absorbed with cars, music and acne than world events

In 1957 the Soviets launch into orbit the first satellite (Sputnik I) – indicating that the Soviets possess the means to deliver virtually unstoppable nuclear weapons; the West is frightened by an apparently growing ‘missile gap’

In 1958 China undertakes a ‘Great Leap Forward’ dreamed up by Communist leader Mao Zedong.
This effort to propagandize the Chinese into an exhaustive effort to catch up industrially (steel production) with the West soon throws the country into confusion – and starvation (20 million Chinese died in the period 1959-1962) 

America pressures its Belgian ally to get rid of its ‘imperialist’ holdings in Africa (Congo - 1959)
only to have the Congo break down in chaos – as the Cold War comes to Africa

In Cuba a young revolutionary, Castro, takes over the country (1959) – and then seizes American industrial property in Cuba – declaring a socialist program for the country; Soviet premier Khrushchev rushes to befriend Castro – driving a deep wedge between Cuba and America.

1960s – The Idealistic and simplistic Cold War world 
collapses into racial and generational chaos

A youthful Senator Kennedy beats out former Vice President Nixon for the presidency – and inspires a political-cultural idealism in America as a new approach to the Cold War; American youth join the Peace Corps in an attempt to bring the ‘Third World’ (Africa, Asia and Latin America) to American-style democracy

But his idealism is tested at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba (April 1961) and at the new Berlin wall (July 1961) – where Kennedy backs down; this prompts Khrushchev to test Kennedy's will over Soviet missile sites built in Cuba (October 1962) – although this time Kennedy did not back down

Race relations in the South are a constant embarrassment for America in the Cold War; Kennedy and Rev. Dr. ML King work together to stir a new commitment to racial civil rights in America

For reasons never clear to America, Kennedy is assassinated in November 1963 – bringing Johnson to the presidency (the glamor of the Kennedy ‘Camelot’ is thus over)

In 1963 Betty Friedan joins the chorus of intellectual attacks on American middle class culture with her book The Feminine Mystique, which depicts the American housewife as caught in a terrible mental trap that only dumbs down women.

French President de Gaulle attempts to rebuild bruised French national pride around a strong anti-Americanism.  He kicks NATO headquarters out of France (1964).  He tries but fails to get Germany to join him in his anti-Americanism. 

In Southeast Asia Communism seems to be advancing –  especially in Vietnam. Johnson (1965) announces a full-scale military intervention in Vietnam to save the country from Communism.

At the same time, Johnson develops the idea of a ‘Great Society’ developed and managed by a huge D.C. bureaucracy as a way of waging a ‘war’ on racism, poverty, illiteracy, etc. in America – and also giving America a better Cold War image

But the war in Vietnam drags on inconclusively – as more American youth are put in uniform to fight a confusing battle where peasant friends and enemies are indistinguishable  (Also: American troop levels there eventually exceed 500,000)

And the Civil Rights movement turns nasty - with young Black militants become more – not less – radicalized by new advances in Black civil rights; the summertime burning of inner cities becomes a regular occurrence as the militants call out: ‘Burn, baby, burn’; also the inner-city crime rate skyrockets

In China, Mao, with his ‘Cultural Revolution,’  encourages the Chinese youth to attack the older generation of Chinese – including even local Communist party officials – for lacking revolutionary spirit.  China is thrown into convulsion – and the Red Army is finally called in to restore order.

1968 is a major turning point in America:

During the ‘Tet’ holiday early in the year the Viet Cong enemy stage a major uprising all through Vietnam, making a seeming mockery of the US military's claim that America was gradually winning in Vietnam

In March Johnson announces that he is bowing out of the upcoming presidential race

In April Dr. King is assassinated – and Black anger torches American inner cities everywhere

Boomers, now college age, link up emotionally with 'anti-Establishment’ young university professors.  Together they begin to protest that mankind's real enemy is the ‘Establishment’ that their parents so deeply revere (America itself, Corporate Industry, Christian Religion).  A nasty generational battle ensues over military service (Vietnam), drugs, protest music, ‘free sex’ (‘make love, not war’), and an ever widening youth crusade for ‘civil rights.’

In June front-runner presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy (JFK’s brother) is assassinated

In August ‘yippies’ (extreme hippies) and Chicago police battle outside the Democratic National Convention center

The cultural divide is widened when the conservative Republican Nixon is elected president in November.

Meanwhile In Europe (also 1968) a similar rebellion of European (particularly French and German) youth against their ‘Establishments’ breaks out.  In Czechoslovakia (1968) a serious anti-Soviet uprising is crushed by Russian tanks

The decade ends with hippie youth celebrating their freedom at the Woodstock Music Festival (1969)

That same year (1969) a bit of American patriotic pride is nonetheless stirred with the American moon landing

The French tire of De Gaulle and fail to back him in a plebiscite (1969); he sulks off into retirement.  France lives on!

1970s – A new political Realism is challenged by
traditional political Idealism, furthering the chaos

Surprisingly the old anti-Communist Nixon backs America away from its Cold War stance (D?tente or a ‘backing down’): 1) opening commercial relations with China and 2) working out nuclear arms limitations agreements (SALT) with the Soviets and 3) beginning to pull American troops out of Vietnam

But this fails to satisfy the hostility of the Boomers and their Liberal tutors –  who still see middle class ‘Establishment’ enemies everywhere – especially in the ‘imperialist’ White House

Another Establishment symbol, Christianity, comes under attack – and with the help of a Liberal US Supreme Court is chased from its traditional position as the foundation of American culture (‘Secularism’ is instead moves into that position)

All in the Family, a TV series that is highly popular throughout the 1970s makes a sad joke of the ‘typical’ middle class American family, especially of the father, Archie Bunker, who supposedly epitomizes all the bad traits of the White Anglo male; while America laughs, the traditional American family is demoralized.  The divorce rate in America skyrockets to new heights as individual personal or professional ambitions among young Americans become more important than family.

In 1974 Nixon is ‘uncovered’ as a ‘conspiring, power-hungry, evil genius’ (the Watergate scandal), offering Boomers, leftist journalists and a very liberal (Democratic Party controlled) Congress the opportunity to hound Nixon from the ‘Imperialist’ White House.  Ford replaces Nixon as President.

This leaves the Ford White House powerless – and Congress (led by the remaining Kennedy brother, Ted) on a quest for a ‘new democracy’ directed not from the White House but from Congress itself

A ‘power-is-evil’ mentality in Congress abruptly ends all financial support of the South Vietnam  Government – which panics and quickly falls to the North Vietnamese Communists (1975)

Sadly, Communist victory in Vietnam inspires a horrible Communist ‘Killing Field’ next door in Cambodia (1975-1978) 
Former (1 term) Georgia governor Carter enters the White House (1977) promising a new foreign policy of ‘morality’:  “America operating in the world, not on the basis of its power, but instead its moral high-mindedness.”   America would no longer ‘imperialize’ others (he briefly proposed recalling American NATO ‘occupational’ troops from Germany and troops long stationed in South Korea – much to the shock of our allies) – nor support wicked dictators such as the Shah of Iran

This undermines the troubled regime of America's major ally in the Muslim world, the Shah of Iran, and brings to power in Iran a bitterly anti-US Shi’ite theocracy – which in turn seeks to topple other secular, proto-Western Middle Eastern governments

The 1970s also reveal the great vulnerability of America to a shut-off of its Middle East oil supply – twice in the decade: in 1973-74 with another Arab-Israeli war, and in 1979 with the fall of the Shah and the disruption of the Iranian oil supply.

The second oil price hike creates a massive inflation which Federal Reserve Chairman Volcker only adds to with huge interest rate increases – plunging the American economy into a deep three-year recession – and Carter into deeper disrepute.

1980s – The 'Regan Era' marks a decade of a return to more traditional values

Former actor and 2-term California governor Reagan (of the old ‘Vet’ generation) crushes Carter in the 1980 election.

Reagan pursues American foreign relations negotiating from strength (not ‘moral purity’) - challenging Russia in a new arms race in outer space (‘Star Wars’) – which infuriates Liberals.

Russia tries to keep up – but begins to break down from its own built-in economic inefficiency.  Gorbachev tries to reform the Russian Communist system with glasnost (personal freedom) and perestroika (new economic and social programming) – but merely exposes all its weaknesses.

In England Conservative Party Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher breaks the trades unions power to cripple the economy –  and masterminds the military defeat of the Argentineans in their grab of  British islands (the Falklands) in the South Atlantic (1982), making her the ‘Iron Lady.’  The British economy and spirit finally soar.  She a Reagan become close friends.

Meanwhile America initiates a veritable revolution in communications technology based especially on the personal computer.

A new minority ‘victim’ group is found for Liberals to champion: homosexuals dying from AIDS.  How exactly they are ‘victims’ is not clear since their disease is entirely self-inflicted; but sympathy for AIDS ‘victims’ gives Liberals a new way to vent against (straight) White Anglo male domination of American culture.  Feminists join the homosexuals in the anti-male campaign.

With the Boomers moving up into positions of social influence, the cultural revolution spreads along a number of fronts – united by a clear vision of ‘ the enemy:  the Anglo, Christian, straight, White male who has so long directed American life

Traditional (Christian) America fights back, with the issues of abortion, prayer in public life, and  a free choice in schooling (vouchers) being the major points of contention

For a while it looks as if Liberals have found their opportunity to chase another Conservative president from the White House with  the ‘Iran-Contra Affair.’  Congress had passed laws shackling the president in the conduct of foreign relations – which Reagan ignores.  The exposure of his secret dealings looks as if Liberals now have their cause – except that the American people make it very clear to Congress that they do not want a repeat of Watergate.  They like their president.

In 1988 Vice President Bush is elected President – and the Reagan policies continue much as before. 

Toward the end of the 1980s the Soviet empire falls apart.  Countries in Eastern Europe are set free (East Germany, Poland, Hungary, etc.) and even former Soviet Republics declare national independence (Ukraine, Armenia, Kazakhstan, etc.)

China, under the direction of Deng Xiaoping, meanwhile has been moving away rapidly from its Communist or Maoist past in an attempt to gain access to the larger world of international investment and trade by which Deng hopes to modernize China.

 1990s – The sole Superpower enjoys a decade of incredible prosperity
– and cultural hedonism

A Bush (Sr.) victory against Iraq in the Gulf or ‘Desert Storm’ War (late 1990-early 1991) puts Vietnam defeatism behind America – restoring a sense of America's rightful place as a sole superpower leading the world

But US economic difficulties (another economic bubble in the US housing and banking bursts) undercuts Bush in his re-election bid – and brings in the Boomer (former Arkansas governor) Clinton to the White House in 1993

Clinton undertakes a Liberal reform agenda (national health insurance and open homosexuality in the military) which explodes in his face – and he backs down

Gingrich’s Contract with America turns into a  Republican takeover of Congress (1994), based on the promise to balance the budget, reduce Federal government spending (especially endless welfare payments) and lower taxes. 

To save his presidency, Clinton moves to take up Gingrich’s program himself – as Gingrich himself self-destructs morally (divorce) and politically (arrogance in front of a very critical press corps)

Towards the end of his presidency Clinton gets caught in a sex scandal (Monica) – but manages to survive politically (and even morally)

Ethnic strife in Bosnia and Kosovo (former Yugoslavia) refine America's role as world policeman – separating the warring ethnic groups in the former Yugoslavia and bringing some degree of peace to the region

Yeltsin's Russia struggles with corruption in its effort to find stability as a ‘democracy.’  The Russian love of Western culture cools.

An ongoing computer revolution continues to bring unprecedented prosperity to many Americans

2000s – Rising global threats put America's superpower status into question

Putin comes to power in Russia (2000) to put the country back on a more traditional authoritarian political course – to the distress of America

Republican Bush (Jr.) narrowly defeats Democrat Gore in the 2000 presidential elections.

Bush, as a ‘compassionate conservative,’ proposes a new look for the Republican party – which slowly reveals itself as being rather similar to the Democratic Party's vision of political ‘progressivism’ run from Washington:  Bush, Jr. pushes hard for his ‘No Child Left Behind’ program – which proposes to put American education under close federal government supervision (is this even constitutional?).

But Muslim (al-Qaeda) terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center (9-11 2001) refocuses Bush's presidency, producing American military/diplomatic resolve in Afghanistan against the al-Qaeda terrorists and their Taliban hosts (who have sworn themselves to the total destruction of Western civilization)

But his Boomer tendency to confuse personal goals with society's goals –  plus the strong push of his Neo-Conservative advisors Cheney and Rumsfeld for ‘democratic nation-building’ in Afghanistan and Iraqdraws him instead into Iraq in an effort to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein, for which he holds a family grudge.  This embroils the US in an on-going cultural struggle for which it was ill-prepared.  The American involvement in Iraq drags on through the rest of Bush's 8-year presidency, costing much and gaining little for America.

American-style democracy for Russia looks like a ‘no-go’; corruption undermines all ‘reforms’ in the former Soviet Union.  In more typical Russian fashion, Putin responds to the challenge by bringing Russia again under the tighter political and economic discipline of the Kremlin.

A rapidly growing (nuclear) India is becoming potentially a new democratic super-power

China has moved into the position of now being one of the economic powerhouses in the world – running up a huge surplus in the balance of trade with America – and helping offset a growing American national indebtedness by buying American public debt.

Nuclear North Korea and near-nuclear Iran (with only mild disapproval from Russia and fast-rising China) move to challenge Western (American) world dominance

A ballooning American government deficit takes on monumental proportions (growing from $5 trillion to well over $10 trillion in the 8 years of the Bush presidency).

Also near financial meltdown of a number of major American banks pushes the international financial world to the brink of collapse ( the end of 2008); but a US government ‘bailout’ in the last days of the Bush presidency provides an expensive a rescue of the banks.

Obama, a curiously inexperienced political celebrity, takes over the White House (early 2009)

Obama follows Bush's program of a buyout of troubled American businesses upon entering office in 2009, extending the Federal buyout to much of the American automotive industry (GM and Chrysler).  He also runs up the public debt with ‘economic incentives’ to try to put life back into the economy.

Obama delivers a speech in Cairo, Egypt, affirming America’s new support for the Islamic world (Jun 2009)

A Democrat-controlled Congress pushes through Obama’s national health program (Nov-Dec 2009)
        ... which Obama signs into law (Mar 2010)


 2010s – America struggles to find its way forward in 

an international multipolar political world 

China and America are locked in a creditor-debtor relationship that complicates the economic policy of both countries

During the ‘Arab Spring’ (2011) the Middle East is shaken by the rise of Muslim rebel groups:     

Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is overthrown in Libya by rebels ... with NATO air cover support (Feb)... merely throwing Libya into a state of civil war     

Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak resigns in the face of growing civil rights protests (Feb) and is soon arrested (Apr)

In Egyptian elections (Jun 2012) fundamentalist Muslim Mohammed Morsi is narrowly elected President.  Morsi then orders the arrest of his secular opponent ... throwing Egypt again into turmoil ... resulting in the military takeover of Gen. al-Sisi (Jun 2013)    

But efforts to overthrow Bashar al-Assad in Syria fail (2011) ... and throw Syria into a cruel civil war  (still ongoing)
   
Osama bin Laden is finally killed by Navy SEALs in Pakistan (May 2011) ... infuriating the Pakistanis
   
Obama threatens Assad with US counteraction if he does not stop his repression (2012) ... but fails to deliver, helping to add to the Syrian confusion ... and driving Assad to Putin’s Russia for support
       
Obama is re-elected in a race with the Republican Romney (November 2012)
   
Masked Russian troops seize Crimea from Ukraine (Feb 2014); Obama protests loudly but can do nothing
   
Jihadists announce the creation of an Islamic state/caliphate (ISIS) which violently overruns most of Western Iraq and Eastern Syria (Jun 2014)
   
The Supreme Court decides 5-4 that ‘marriage’ must also include homosexual unions (Jun 2015)
   
Europe is faced with a massive refugee problem coming from Syria and Africa (2015-2016)
   
Economic sanctions are lifted against Iran ... having ended nuclear weapons development (Jan 2016)
   
By a narrow majority, the British vote (Jun 2016) to leave the European Union (the ‘Brexit’)
   
The American federal debt reaches nearly $20 trillion by the end of the Obama Presidency
   
Businessman and TV celebrity Donald Trump defeats Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential elections. Democrats protest that the election was not fair (he won the electoral college vote but not the popular vote) ... and become determined to bring down the Trump Presidency by whatever means possible.

Miles H. Hodges - 2013