The New World Order and the Gulf War
Rhetoric, Policy, and Politics in the United States
New world order became the catch phrase of U.S. policy in the Gulf during the crisis and war. It seems to have entered the vocabulary of U.S. foreign policy makers, however, largely by accident. As the story goes, in early August 1990, shortly after Iraq occupied Kuwait, National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, while discussing with White House press aides how to explain U.S. confrontation of Iraq, is reported to have said, "Tell them we can't just let Iraq get away with this--there is a new world order developing." Shortly thereafter a CNN correspondent came by. "We told her it's a'new world order,'" one of the group said later. "She liked it, nd 30 minutes later it was on CNN. . . . The philosophy came later."1
The "philosophy" that unfolded was heavy in rhetoric and light in substance. The new world order swung between something newly emerged (an international system without the cold war and the dangers of bipolar confrontation) and a condition that the United States as sole surviving superpower sought to establish. The latter interpretation implied a new era of peace where a benign internationalism would be imbued with liberalist values and institutions in rising democracies. What "internationalism" in actuality signified for U.S. policy in a world of unchallenged military superiority was made manifest in the Gulf War and its aftermath.
In the weeks and months following the creation of the idea of a new world order, the phrase appeared prominently in the rhetoric of President George Bush and Secretary of State James Baker when they sought to explain and justify the large-scale military involvement in the Gulf. In various public statements the implications of a new world order for U.S. foreign policy during the Gulf crisis were suggested. These statements, in turn, were given focus in the com-