Wednesday, October 10, 2007

about that New World Order

In a robust discussion about Fukuyama's and other millennial essays, David Betz brings us back to the point of the unit by noting that Bush 41 seemed to define the New World as 'an era of international cooperation through the United Nations under the leadership of the United States in which strong action would be taken against attempts to destabilize the order', then asks: 'Was this New World Order confirmed by the 1991 Gulf War?' and 'Did the New World Order come to pass in subsequent conflicts?'

Not at all, in my judgment. Not since the Korean War has the UN been able to function as a peace-keeping organization even with the US doing the heavy lifting--and the Korean intervention was possible only because the Soviet Union had walked out, taking the counterweight away. Now that the USSR has left the scene, it is the UN itself that seeks to be the counterweight to American power, a development that has caused the US public (as opposed to elite opinion) to become very weary of the UN. This used to be an extreme right-wing attitude; now, I suspect, it would win a plebiscite.

And it has been self-reinforcing. No doubt Bush 41 believed he was leading a world movement in rolling back Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, but in fact he was only leading US forces with an assist from the British, French, Egyptians, and a few others. In Yugoslavia, Clinton 42 (I am assuming here that there will be a Clinton 44) made a grander gesture toward internationalism, but significantly it was through NATO, not the UN. And when Bush 43 took us back to Iraq, it was likewise back to his father's ad hoc coalition-building. Far from being part of it, the UN was essentially opposed to it, and remains opposed today. The surface noise in America is all about weariness with the Iraq war, but accompanying that, and I suspect outlasting it, is a disgust with the United Nations.

I'm not sure that Bush 41 ever really believed his rhetoric. He strikes me as a very practical man. The notion of a New World Order grated on me at the time, rather reminding me of the Thousand Year Reich. And his son has clearly demonstrated that he doesn't believe in it at all, at least not the bit about the UN.

In the Fukuyama thread, Michael Jensen noted that 'we can affort to pay 'Blackwater to keep the peace for us'. But this we is really the American taxpayer, with the US military as a sort of Blackwater writ large--an unpaid mercenary army for the world, or at least for the West. The Saudis joked, during the 1991 Gulf War, that they didn't have to do a whole lot of fighting because they had 'our blue-eyed slaves' to do that for them. As to paying the blue-eyed slaves, we passed the cup around and the Saudis manfully pitched in. But with each subsequent conflict, the participation has dwindled, until now the British are the only ones left standing. And it's yet to be seen whether Britain's willingness to expend blood and treasure on these interventions has outlasted Tony Blair.

Blue skies! -- Dan Ford


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