The unintended results of the New World Order
By Luciana Bohne
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 28, 2006, 00:32

"It is a big idea: a new world order . . . only the United States has both the moral standing and the means to back it up," said George Bush the First on 29 January 1991.

Setting aside the question of why a new world order was needed at all -- since the old one had put in place a UN Charter that opposed "wars of choice," a set of Geneva Conventions that spelled out rules of war and security responsibilities for occupying powers, was moving to establish an International Criminal Court, had put in place a Non-Proliferation Treaty that bound nuclear-armed nations to scaling down their nuclear arsenals, was working on protocols that would address environmental degradation of the planet -- it might be profitable to deconstruct the terms in which Bush's vainglorious assertion was framed.

Let's look, first, at this "new world order," as it has played out in the political life of affected nations. Let's start with the latest manifestation, the one in Condoleezza Rice's aborted "new Middle East." After 33 days of bombing in Lebanon, Israel has inflicted a physical damage of $15 billion dollars, killed more than 1,183 people (one-third of them children) and wounded 4,055 others, destroyed 6,000 houses and partially damaged 200,000 others.

In spite of the US's military and diplomatic support for the war, Israel has emerged the loser, its deterrence credibility in shambles consequent upon its failure to defeat Hizballah; its image in the Arab, Muslim, and larger world community further stained by the exceptional zeal with which it pursued its criminal goals. If the US, via Israel, hoped that the Lebanese people would rise up against Hizballah, it has learned nothing from the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Today, in the Arab and Muslim world the most popular western leader is not George Bush the Second but Bush's Latin-American new nemesis, Hugo Chavez, who expelled the Israeli ambassador from Venezuela at the outbreak of Israel's attack on Lebanon. In fact, the latest Israeli invasion of Lebanon has reinvigorated national pride in the Arab Muslim world and helped to lionize Hizballah's leader, Nasrallah.

And that's the "new world order" of the unintentional consequences of western aggression -- the formal emergence in the area of a people-supported, potentially victorious resistance. This resistance has nothing to do with the "terror" the US purports to be fighting. Nothing sets apart Hizballah more from its supposed al Qaeda-type look-alikes -- even if these exist as separate entities from their characterizations by US propaganda -- than its popular base.

It gets worse. The Lebanon war was not just one war. Israel's brutal act of aggression involving the destruction of Lebanon contained a second war, the one the US wishes to wage against Iran. The US abetted and armed Israel, and thwarted efforts to secure a cease-fire, but it failed to defeat, by proxy, Lebanon's Iran-supported nationalist guerrillas. Iran's endorsement of asymmetrical tactics has prevailed.

The "new world order" now contains an Iran fully in the ascendant as a power more to be reckoned with than to attack. It extends its influence through Iraq, along its long borders with Afghanistan, over into Shia groups in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, and Lebanon. Worse for the "new world order," it has managed to start unifying anti-imperialist, nationalist sentiments across cultural and religious lines, a unity of purpose the old order failed to achieve, in spite of its policy of supporting repressive puppets who opposed Arab-Muslim nationalism in favor of imperialist penetration.

With Iran in the ascendancy in the region, it is not difficult to see why Israel and the United States failed to secure a NATO force in Lebanon, as they had originally wished, in order to transform it into a protectorate (like Bosnia and Kosovo) under the boot of US command. For the disoriented and timid Europeans, the US is neither the guarantor of security and protection it once used to be, nor the invincible power behind whose skirts they hid in the paranoic Cold War.

Moreover, the US nullifies or attacks and destroys EU investments from Lebanon to Iraq. Why should the Europeans, under American NATO command, wage war in the interest of the US? The Balkan wars, a clear success of American multilateralism, though an economic and political defeat for the people of the region, may have been the last hurrah of the old world order. Today, Iran may well be seen among investors (and not only European) as the savior and protector of their interests against American dominance in the region -- in an irony whose mortifying richness has to be appreciated even by veteran Bush-wars supporters! Everything the US has done to secure its "new world order" has produced its opposite: a new world order of resistance to its hegemonic drive. In militarizing itself, it has militarized the world.

Some may say that militarizing the world was its intention, but that goal could only have been entertained if the US hoped for victory. This victory would be based on its "moral standing and its means to back it up." Means it has aplenty -- the largest arsenal of nuclear paraphernalia on the planet -- but it misuses these means, again and again, by employing them not in self-defense but in the service of terrorizing populations to bend to its political will, in Iraq most reprehensibly. Moral standing, therefore, it lacks.

In Afghanistan, it quickly disengaged itself from the responsibilities of occupation and reconstruction by handing over operations to NATO. Afghanistan now stands on the brink of a Taleban takeover. In Iraq, it lied the country into war, went against the advice of its senior military advisors, sidelined the specialists and analysts in the CIA, hijacked the judicial system to subvert constitutional laws, and insulted international consensus. In Palestine, the US, the self-appointed champion of freedom and democracy in a feat of unparalleled, costly, and long-standing hypocrisy, enables an occupier's policy of apartheid in defiance of several UN resolutions, including the one with the original sin -- Resolution 242, binding Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.

Israel, unique in the world, refuses to declare its borders (while claiming to defend them!) and arrests with impunity half the elected governing body of its occupied ward, bombing electric plants to further punish the population for electoral results it does not approve of, extending a time-and-space-consuming matrix of control over the Palestinian population with discriminatory pass laws, preferential infrastructure, and an internationally condemned "security fence" which gobbles up ever more of the shrinking patrimony of historical Palestine. This monstrosity the US repeatedly peddles as "the only democracy in the Middle East."

Continuing to dismantle whatever "moral standing" it could lay claim to before it decided to squander it irretrievably in this folly of the "war on terror," the US supports undemocratic regimes throughout the world, the most egregious being the satrapy in Saudi Arabia, while kidnapping democratic leaders like Haiti's president, Aristide, and attempting to crush the democratic will of his people.

What moral standing? The US is seen as the government of lies, corruption, greed, and war -- a kind of governmental version of Enron, the corporate empire that turned out to be a criminally duplicitous house of cards. As if this were not bad enough, the military means it has at its disposal, it employs in a cowardly strategy of air warfare that discriminates against civilians without achieving military victory.

Rumsfeld's theory of war on the cheap is a war desired from the attacker's point of view -- quick and lite, it produces only explosions and death. The prestige of victory eludes it. Israel, the US copy-cat and willing apprentice, has learned something of the futility of air power to secure anything more than destruction, humiliation, and world revulsion.

To win wars, you must fight them with something a little more substantial than bombs and lies. You need truth and justice. It's not how good an army you have that matters, but whose army it is. The armies of colonialist and imperialist powers are not the armies of freedom and democracy but the armies of oppression and subjugation. And that's why they lose. Elementary -- throughout history.

The "new world order" desired by the senior Bush has become a reality in junior's actions. But it is not a world that was intended. It is a world in which the US has invented a fictional enemy that has generated a reality it will not be able to defeat and which may well drive it, cornered, into the mad frustration of a global war. For US foreign policy, it is time to change course before the current course drags humanity into a terminal debacle and murder of "unimaginable proportions."

Luciana Bohne teaches film and literature at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at

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