Origins and End of the New World Order
Bishirjian, Richard J., Modern Age
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Origins and End of the New World Order," the text of which follows below, is a challenging examination of revolutionary trends in American foreign policy and practices in the twentieth century. Its author, Dr. Richard J. Bishirjian, is a long-time contributor and editorial advisor to Modern Age. His essay is bold in idea, incisive in content, trenchant in argument. Undoubtedly, too, it is an essay that will provoke sharp debate, given its conclusions, some of them at once disturbing and sobering.
Bishirjian's historical analysis and critical judgments with respect to some of the purposes and the consequences of an American foreign policy inevitably reveal the powerful influences of progressive ideologues like Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), whose idealism and messianism have come to define and shape foreign policy especially from the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the present administration. Bishirjian, who expresses his thoughts with unusual candor, goes to the heart of his thesis when he writes: "Progressive ideologues like Woodrow Wilson sought a future world--within time--that approximated traditional Christianity's hope for eternal peace in a heavenly world. This secular, immanentist ideology successfully challenged the fundamental principles of the American regime--the philosophy of limited government of the Founders of the Constitution of the United States--and transformed the American nation into a 'Christ-Nation,' thus placing the American people at risk to even greater ideologies such as Nazism and Marxism."
The author's appraisal of the risks, errors, antinomies, and failures emerging from a foreign policy that has sought to implement the "ideological expectation of a New World Order" is, to say the least, disquieting. Indeed, his warnings cannot be easily dismissed, if the slightest possibility of greater disorders is to be avoided in the twenty-first century. Bishirjian's major concerns are not only inherently moral but also spiritual in character. The condition of the American commonwealth and of the American soul, he thus insists, simply can be neither compromised nor discounted. Indeed, it is precisely this nexus of concern that distinguishes "Origins and End of the New World Order," and that makes it incumbent on a reader to study its meaning. His essay in effect conveys a holistic perspective infrequently found in many writings on the same subject.
Understanding contemporary American foreign policy in relation to "modernist universalist internationalism" is distinctly aided by Bishirjian's scrutiny. That he focuses on Woodrow Wilson as the arch-priest of a revolutionary "'Redeemer-Nation'" and of an imperialistic and universalistic ideology that imperils the American nation and soul, connects Bishirjian's work with, and places him in direct succession of, the seminal conservative minds of Irving Babbitt and Russell Kirk, who earlier singled out Wilson as the inspirer of a New World Order that threatens ultimately civil society at home and promises chaos abroad, for "'stuff happens.'" In his magisterial Democracy and Leadership (1924), Babbitt warned in no uncertain terms: "Let one consider Mr. Woodrow Wilson, who more than any other recent American, sought to extend our idealism beyond our national frontiers. In the pursuit of his scheme for world service, he was led to make light of the constitutional checks on his authority and to reach out almost automatically for unlimited power."
Bishirjian, it will be seen, brings Babbitt's fears to their climactic point of truth. Wilson, surrendering to millenarian ideas, became still another victim of what Babbitt calls "the humanitarian confusion of values" and "idealistic distractions." As a great Babbittian of more recent times, Kirk, has remarked in Enemies of the Permanent Things (1969) about Wilson's faith in the liberal illusions of Progress, Equality, and the Republic; the twenty-eighth president of the United States betrayed one of the "classical virtues," political prudence, by creating a modern political dream-world of "'a world safe for democracy'" and a "'world safe from war. …