New World Order

The "New World Order" was a key phrase in American President's George W. Bush's State of the Union address which he delivered in 1991, when referring to the Gulf War. He said, "What is at stake is more than one small country, it is a big idea--a new world order where diverse nations are drawn together in common cause to achieve the universal aspirations of mankind: peace and security, freedom and the rule of law. Such is a world worthy of our struggle." After the end of the cold war, the United States of America was the world's only remaining superpower and this led to a change in American foreign policy, possibly as momentous as that of Wilson's policy of isolationism or the Truman Doctrine. Taken at face value, the beginning of the new world order began at the end of the cold war when the era of two superpowers ended, leaving a world with only one economic and military superpower (or imperial power), that being the United States of America. Therefore a new paradigm emerged along with a new international world order, with America unrivalled and for probably the first time in modern history with no balance of power.

President Bush's version of a new world order was not a direct response to the Gulf War but was arguably the main reason why America declared war against Iraq in order to protect Kuwait from the former's naked aggression. If America did not stand up to Iraq, Bush believed, it would signal to the world that America would not stand by its values and would send the wrong signal to the rest of the world. The logic being that by America responding so forcefully to Iraqi aggression, it would discourage any other parties who were thinking of committing acts of aggression. This deterrent would lead to the creation of a peaceful international order. The Gulf War, said President Bush, would be a "war to end all wars," as the war would create an enduring deterrent to other countries and this would discourage any further aggression.

The main threat in the early 1990s came from small or medium states that could use unconventional weapons ,such as biological, chemical or nuclear weapons against established nations. The new world order was meant to act as a deterrent against those countries and to ensure that they knew that the cost of their aggression might be too expensive to bear. The prospect of having countries like Iraq threaten their neighbors and other nations meant that America had to go to war to protect its vision of a new world order.

However, rather than providing the perfect example for what the new world order would look like, the Gulf War instead had the opposite effect. Because of the oil interests in the gulf and the fact that America's oil supplies would be threatened by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the entire American offensive took on a different meaning. The strategic importance of the oil eclipsed the rationale of providing a "war to end all wars" and while the Gulf War can be justified by Bush's vision for a new world order, the fact that America had strategic assets at stake meant that the new world order is forever looked at cynically.

The new world order definitely has some similarities with the Truman doctrine of the post World War II years. The Truman doctrine also stated a new vision of a world order in response to a threat, and that vision was also a world without aggression and where people would be able to secure their own destinies. President Truman wanted the American people to champion the world and ensure its security. In his address to the U.S. Congress President Truman declared, "I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way." It was something not too far away from President Bush's version of the new world order, only it was 45 years earlier. However, unlike the new world order the main foreign policy was containment rather than aggression.

New World Order: Selected full-text books and articles

A Kinder and Gentler Tyranny: Illusions of a New World Order By D. Michael Rivage-Seul; Marguerite K. Rivage-Seul Praeger Publishers, 1995
The Gulf War and the New World Order: International Relations of the Middle East By Tareq Y. Ismael; Jacqueline S. Ismael University Press of Florida, 1994
The Imperial Temptation: The New World Order and America's Purpose By Robert W. Tucker; David C. Hendrickson Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1992
The Presidency in an Age of Limits By Michael A. Genovese Greenwood Press, 1993
Librarian's tip: Chap. 5 "George Bush: New World Order or Old World Disorder?"
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