As Dartmouth students learn, the world turns

by Tara Kyle | 6/10/01 5:00am

Insular Hanover may have at times shielded this year's graduating seniors from the intricacies of the foreign affairs and domestic policy debates. But over the course of four years of intense scholarship and collegiate fun, some events on the world and national stages have been important enough to crack even the "Big Green Bubble."

1997

The summer preceding the arrival of busloads of nervous '01s on campus saw a number of prominent events.

Perhaps most memorably, millions across the globe mourned the deaths of Princess Diana of Wales and Mother Teresa, separated by only a week.

Public mourning for the former princess's death -- including massive stacks of flowers and cards strewn at the gates of Buckingham palace -- recalled the reaction to John F. Kennedy's death 34 years earlier. Diana's final years were charity works, particularly in the form of campaigns for land mine victims in third world countries.

Mother Teresa passed on at the age of 92 in Calcutta, the city in which she had devoted her life to helping the poor.

Also of note in late 1997 were a pair of inexplicable phenomenon. One was the strength of El Nio, a sporadic cooling of waters in the Pacific that wreaked havoc on weather conditions. The second was Mike Tyson's questionable decision to end his boxing match against Evander Holyfield by biting off part of his opponent's left ear.

1998

Scandal in our nation's highest office was the biggest news story of 1998, as Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr spun an investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton's Whitewater financial dealings into charges that the president lied about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky during a deposition in another case.

Clinton's December impeachment, on counts of obstruction of justice and perjury, was the nation's second -- Andrew Johnson has the dubious honor of being the first president to be tried by the Senate.

The coincidence of the release of the political satire film "Wag the Dog" and Clinton's decision to take out Iraq's chemical and biological weapons stockpiles with air strikes led some pundits to question the motives of this action.

A degree of hope came to the 800 years of conflict and violence between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland as former Senate Majority leader George Mitchell helped broker Northern Ireland's "Good Friday Agreement."

The deal, which has since broken down, called for the disarmament of numerous militia groups operating in the four Ulster counties under British rule and created a democratic body working to decide the future of the partitioned region.

On the other side of the planet, economic crisis continued to plague such countries as Japan, South Korea and Indonesia, but left the United States in large part unaffected.

Also in Asia, the threat of nuclear warfare once again arose as India tested three nuclear bombs on May 11. Neighboring rival Pakistan promptly retaliated, confirming long-held suspicions that both countries possessed the atomic weapons.

In the sports world, sluggers Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa raced to best Roger Maris' 1961 home run record. At summer's end, McGuire came out on top by sending 70 shots out of the park.

Finally, relief came to millions of previously impotent men with the release of Viagra.

1999

Monica-gate reached its sordid conclusion in early 1999, depriving many a late-night comic of material, when the Senate voted on nearly perfect partisan lines against removing Clinton from office.

Abroad, the U.S. led the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's decision to deploy air strikes in the Balkans for the second time this decade as Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslav government continued persecution of ethnic Albanians seeking autonomy for the province of Kosovo.

Stateside, a public outcry ensued after 15 students were gunned down at Littleton, Colorado's Columbine High School on April 20. Violence in the movie and music industries -- and in particular the work of artist Marilyn Manson -- was condemned by many as an instigator of such acts.

As the days leading toward the millenium ticked away, questions loomed over the potential hazards of the Y2K bug. Sources predicted widely varying degrees of damage, ranging from a few airline delays and scattered losses of power, to the apocalyptic expectations of doomsday cults such as Heaven's Gate.

In the end, little came of Y2K, and the New Year passed without incident of any kind.

2000

Primary season brought presidential prospects Bill Bradley and John McCain head to head with incumbent Vice President Al Gore and favored son George W. Bush.

McCain experienced early successes, taking several primaries while Bush stirred up controversy by speaking at South Carolina's anti-Catholic Bob Jones University. But by Super Tuesday, both favorites had locked up their respective party nominations.

The campaign's trajectory over the summer months was marked largely by its tightness, and when votes were finally tallied in November, no clear victor emerged.

For weeks, politicians and the populace debated pregnant chads and the failings of the Electoral College before Gore conceded the election, allowing Bush to declare himself the nation's next president.

Conflict again erupted with Cuba as young Elian Gonzalez found himself at the center of an international custody battle which finally ended with his forced removal from the home of Miami relatives.

The world watched helplessly as a Russian submarine Kursk sunk in the Barents Sea, killing all 118 crew members.

2001

George W. Bush was inaugurated amid lingering grumblings of unfair vote counts, put to rest later in the spring by full recounts of the ballots that indicated he would have won.

Bush's administration was tested early by in April when a U.S. Navy surveillance plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet and made an emergency landing on the island of Hainan. The Chinese government detained some 24 crew members for 11 days following the crash.

California has been embroiled in a serious energy crisis, resulting in rolling blackouts and government efforts to curb prices.

The ongoing crisis in the Middle East has reached numerous flashpoints, as violence between Palestinians and Israelis continues to escalate in Israel.