Bridge to the 21st Century The Clinton and Bush II years As the first decade of the 21st century drew to a close, the United States found itself adjusting to a world considerably more complex than that of the Cold War. The bipolar rivalry of that era, for all its dangers and challenges, had imposed an unprecedented simplicity on international affairs. The newer, messier world order (or disorder) featured the rapid rise of China as a major economic force. India and Brazil were not far behind. Post-Soviet Russia re-emerged as an oil and natural gas power seeking to regain lost influence in Eastern Europe. The United States remained the pre-eminent power in the world, but was now first in a complex multipolar international system. At home, the nation remained generally prosperous through most of the Bush years. After a weak first year, gross domestic product grew at a relatively steady, if
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