The USA’s New World Order (in 1991)

New World Order

by Jack Lane

There could be no greater misnomer for the current world situation than ‘the New World Order’. As the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, Roman, nor an Empire, this Order is none of the things it claims to be. It is American, disorderly, and there is nothing new about it.

The Gulf War was the launch-pad of this New Order. It is justified as a way of keeping the world safe from Saddam Hussein. In fact, however, Saddam acted totally in the spirit of the New Order. He had a border dispute with a particularly despicable bunch of parasites, and, with America’s blessing, he decided to resolve the issue by force.

America, however, suddenly changed its stance, got on its moral high horse, and declared that what he was doing was outrageous. It proceeded to prove its point by gratuitously slaughtering some hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. This has set the rules and the tone of the New Order. It is now continuing to taunt, insult and humiliate Iraq, just as the Allies did to Germany after Versailles. The rules should be clear to everyone: firepower and the willingness to use it is what counts in the New Order. Mao’s dictum that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” has been fully confirmed by America. That is now the norm for dealing with such issues. The current reason given for their behaviour towards Iraq is to destroy its nuclear potential. But why only Iraq’s?

The Sunday Telegraph of October 6, 1991 had an article, “Whose Bomb Next?” which pointed out that along with the ‘legitimate’ possessors of nuclear weapons, several countries probably had them, or the potential to have them. These include India, South Africa, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Argentina and Brazil. It went on to point out that there are a lot of redundant nuclear scientists looking for jobs these days. It is not difficult to imagine that there are several other countries that could, and probably are, already providing gainful employment for these people. The break-up of the Soviet Union into various states would give a major boost to the spread of these weapons. In other words, the spread of nuclear weapons is continuing apace, and it is inevitable. Apart from the fact that they cannot be de-invented, the behaviour of America is making it inevitable because any self-respecting state now knows that it needs such a capacity to protect itself against the vagaries of America’s foreign policy.

If yesterday’s good guys, like Saddam, can become today’s bad guys, and be treated like him, who can feel secure? Hollywood is the American Dream in so far as it can be realised, and it is the Hollywood imagination that drives the American approach to the world. There is the Sheriff in his White House with deputies like Hurd and Mitterrand who can be relied on, at a moment’s notice, to round up the posse down at the UN Corral to give chase to the bad guy. The distinction between a posse and a lynch mob is never very clear. This approach to law and order has not been a resounding success in America, and it certainly will not be more successful in the world at large.

For a start, how is the bad guy to be recognised? By all the criteria propounded by the promoters of the New Order, the Chinese leaders should be next on the list. They are unashamed communist dictators and butchers of democrats, as well as possessors of tons of nuclear weapons. Not only are they left alone, but the promoters of the New Order come to them bearing nice juicy gifts, like Hong Kong.

It is obvious why they will not be touched. They have not lost confidence in themselves, and they have the means and the will to stand up for themselves so there will have to be exceptions made for them. The New Order is really for those who can be ordered about. We are forever being told that nowadays, as opposed to the Cold War era, there is a world community with a mind of its own about what it wants. In some miraculous way, George Bush is always in agreement with what this ‘world’ wants. As if by magic, Douglas Hurd, John Major, Neil Kinnock and Gerald Kaufman are all able to read the mind of this world community simultaneously and are always in agreement about it.

The fact is that the exact opposite is the case. There was a world community during the Cold War. There were two major social systems in competition, and every square mile of the world was competed for in order to prove and disprove the virtues and vices of the two systems. This made for a real community. Everyone had a vested interest in what everyone else was doing. The power of nuclear weapons was used to emphasise the reality of the possibility of total destruction if the world did not sort out its problems without war, and this emphasised the sense of a world community. This situation of competing social systems severely curtailed and circumscribed national/ethnic conflict and resulted in the greatest social development that the world had ever seen.

Now the emphasis is totally on national/ethnic conflicts and the sense of a world community is being reduced to the expectations of the participants in such conflicts. And those expectations are always rather limited: how can we beat the shit out of them before they do it to us? Such conflicts are nothing new and are the very antithesis of any kind of world order. It is a version of the Hobbesian nightmare of all against all, and life will certainly be nasty, brutish and short for those who happen to be on the losing side.

The liberal West has lost all moral authority by promoting this type of order because it is based ultimately on the type of terror that the US unleashed on Iraq: a terror that makes the so-called terrorists look like angels.

This article appeared in November 1991, in Issue 26 of Labour and Trade Union Review, now Labour Affairs.  You can find more from the era at