On Sept. 11, 1990, President George H.W. Bush made an address to Congress called “Toward a New
World Order.” This “New World Order” was to be the symbol of international cooperation on all manner of issues ranging from economics to security to humanitarian aid.
Bush 41 actually stated in his address, “The crisis in the Persian Gulf offers a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times … a new world order can emerge in which the nations of the world, east and west, north and south, can prosper and live in harmony. … Today the new world is struggling to be born.”
This was a dramatic shift from the very realist bipolar world order that was a result of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. A world based on mutual gains, cooperation, and solutions to global problems sounded like utopia realized after decades of the two superpowers exploiting the Third World, committing espionage, and in general acting out Machiavellian politics on a global scale.
A very positive and stabilizing force behind this new order was the multilateral component. The U.S. had the ability to unilaterally enforce the relative era of peace following the Cold War, known as the Pax Americana, yet chose to simply engage in a few policing actions, take down a genuinely terrible individual (Milosevic), and facilitate global economic growth.
It did not tamper with the centuries-old system of international relations that grew out of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, instead opting to take a somewhat hands-off approach to the internal affairs of sovereign states – even if that meant allowing dictators and tyrants to kill or oppress their own populations.
But hey, that’s what has kept states relatively free from a direct, brutal conquest for centuries (except for a few exceptions like the entire indigenous populations of the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia, and anywhere else that was not Europe).
The current war in Iraq will change all of that; the only question is how. The debate is over who actually has UN legitimacy, those for or those against the war? The U.S. has built a pretty impressive multilateral coalition, which can be viewed at www.whitehouse.gov, giving the operation a great deal of credibility if not legitimacy from the perspective of those who are in favor of preserving the current world order.
The only catch is that the operation was not officially approved by the UN Security Council. As a result of this move without another Security Council resolution, there are fears that Russia, France, and China might attempt to create a new bloc in an attempt to check the power of the United States. If these three states attempt anything as idiotic as this, it will be France, Russia and China who will be responsible for the death of the Westphalian system of international peace, not the United States and its multilateral coalition.
It is still too early to tell what the extent of Saddam’s treachery was in regards to his supply of weapons of mass destruction, but from the evidence that Saddam has provided the world in the past several days, it is pretty obvious that the United States’ claim about his has been vindicated.
Time is up, and the ball is in the Axis of Hypocrisy’s court. It is their call if they want to threaten global peace and establish a less friendly world order.