March 29, 2000

The New World Order and You

On the way to the conference I was reading the New York Times. This is not something I like to do, but it was either that or the in-flight movie. The paper carried a number of stories about President Clinton’s trip to India. One described him visiting a village and listening to the problems of the local women. The reporter, Celia W. Dugger, could not stop gushing about Clinton’s solicitude, not to mention his extraordinary importance in the world. On and on she blathered about these insignificant Indian women’s appropriately reverential attitude towards the Commander in Chief of the Greatest Power on Earth. At one point she wrote: "And one of those council members had a good question for the big shot from America. People all over the world stereotype Indians as a backward people, she said. ‘Do you think we are backward?’ The president replied with an emphatic ‘No’. ‘You are proving that democracy can be used to lift the poor; can be used to end discrimination against women and keep children – girls and boys – in school; can be used to bring people of different tribes and castes together’, he said. ‘That is very important to me and my family, my wife who has been in Indian villages, and to our whole administration’."

One wonders why Bill Clinton even bothered to go to India. He hardly needed to travel thousands of miles and to drag along his vast entourage – all at taxpayers’ expense – just to utter these tired platitudes. For Clinton says the same thing wherever he goes. Whether he is in Baltimore or in the Bronx or in East Palo Alto he is always harping on about "ending discrimination against women" or about "keeping children in school." Yet the Times story captures perfectly the essential ingredients of the New World Order. On the one hand, there is the vast mass of humanity which has to conform to contemporary Western notions of "tolerance," "diversity" and "multiculturalism." On the other hand, there is the "big shot from America" On the one hand, we have "tolerance" – one that tolerates everything except intolerance of tolerance. On the other hand, we have the United States, ready to use its B-2 bombers and cruise missiles to enforce the rule of "tolerance."

"Non-discrimination" and American power go rather well together. Civilization is about discrimination. It is about preferring one thing to another, one’s own language to another, one’s own moral values to another, one’s own traditions to another. American power – or rather the policymakers who wield it – loathes this. And this is perfectly understandable. The less culture, the fewer traditions one is committed to, the less one will be able to resist the encroachments of the United States. History must be jettisoned, here in the United States as much as anywhere else. The Indian villagers who are babbling about "diversity" one day will be eating Big Macs and taking their cues from Christiane Amanpour and CNN the next.

The New World Order means nothing but the absolute, unconditional, unrestricted power of the United States. Needless to say, America’s leaders strive mightily to obscure this. Remember the first time we heard about the New World Order? It was used by President Bush before the United Nations in September 1990. Bush was asking the world to rally behind the US-led alliance seeking to throw Iraq out of Kuwait. Now George Bush probably said these words without meaning too much by them. That was often the case with him. At the time, the "New World Order" was interpreted to mean the rule of international law. The end of the Cold War meant that nations would no longer be able to play the Great Powers off against one another. There was now only one power in the world – the West. And the West, as everyone knew, stood for international law. Hence nations would have to resolve their differences in accordance with civilized norms. The United Nations would finally come into its own.

However, the rule of international law was about the last thing the United States had in mind. As always, the UN is handy only when Americans are able to control it. If they can’t, they disregard it. This is what happened last year. The United States was bent on waging an aggressive war against Yugoslavia. Most of the rest of the world was extremely unhappy about this. So the United States decided to skip the United Nations altogether, even as it was blathering on about "humanitarian intervention" and the "international community." In pulverizing Yugoslavia the United States violated every international law in the book, from the Articles of the United Nations to the Geneva Conventions to the 1969 International Law of Treaties.

Clearly then the New World Order has nothing to do with international law. Nor does it have much to do with the rule of democracy – Francis Fukuyama’s little conceit. To American policymakers the "democracy" slogan is useful as a stick with which to beat perceived enemies of the United States. The rest of the time they pay no attention to it. Slobodan Milosevic has won election after election in Yugoslavia. Yet America’s leaders continually refer to him as a "dictator." In the meantime, they fall over themselves groveling before the various Arab sheiks who run their little states as family fiefdoms and never bother with elections at all. They do as they are told and no one badgers them about the lack of "independent" media. A columnist like William Safire – always a useful bellwether of US government thinking – dismisses the Russian elections as a "fraud." Why? Because Vladimir Putin, whom he loathes for daring to pursue Russian national interests, won overwhelmingly, while his candidate, Grigory Yavlinsky, ended up in single digits. Election results that are inconvenient to the US Government are to be disregarded. If people vote the wrong way they are punished. Austrians go to the polls. They vote for Joerg Haider and then find themselves ostracized. Bosnian Serb President Nikola Poplasen wins an election, then gets kicked out of office – not by the voters but by the Office of High Representative (the very name is redolent of the old office of Colonial High Commissioner). Poplasen was deemed "unacceptable" to the "international community," whether Bosnia’s Serbs wanted him as their leader or not.

The New World Order has nothing much to do with human rights either. The United States picks and chooses very carefully whom it will upbraid for delinquency on the matter. Turkey gets a free hand to do what it wants with its dissidents. As does Colombia. As does Algeria. As does the Kosovo Liberation Army. As do the Chechen rebels. So long as your killing and kidnapping are securing US interests, your values are in conformity with those of the New World Order. Similarly, you can be as nationalist and as intolerant as you want. But you must pursue US interests. While Washington was hysterically denouncing the idea of "Greater Serbia" – which no one had ever seriously pursued anyway – it was busily promoting the reality of Greater Albania. Why? Because Greater Albania is ready to turn itself into a US satellite, a military base in the Eastern Mediterranean . Therefore, Albanian nationalism was encouraged. The New World Order purports to be intolerant of religious intolerance. Yet the United States hates certain religions, not others. And it finds certain kinds of religious intolerance very tolerable. Last year, the US Government declared that there would be no let up in the bombing of Yugoslavia during Orthodox Easter. This contrasted starkly with President Clinton’s professed solicitude for the feelings of Moslems in December 1998 when he stated that he would not bomb Iraq during Ramadan. In the past, the United States has expressed concern that Russia was granting the Orthodox Church a privileged status among the country’s religious faiths. Yet President Alija Izetbegovic’s commitment to introduce the sharia in Bosnia only elicited an American promise to come to his rescue. The United States has also had no problems with the sharia in Chechnya. Who are the leaders of the most intolerant Islamic fundamentalism in the world today? Afghanistan’s Taliban. And, of course, they were created by the United States. Their mission was to make mischief for the Russians. This they have accomplished with aplomb.

It is obvious then that there is only one consistent principle that animates the New World Order: All nations, all religions, all moral values have to be subordinates to the will of the United States. The United States will decide the destiny of the world. The tools at its disposal are extraordinary in their variety and power. Apologists for US power talk of the ubiquity and influence of American culture, as if it is idiotic movies and TV shows that secure America’s dominance over other nations. America rules on account of its military power. No one is strong enough to challenge NATO. Not surprising then that the United States has repeatedly pressed its European "partners" – or rather underlings – to deploy NATO "out of area." America also rules on account of its financial power – its ability to provoke a crisis somewhere and then to ride to the rescue – in the guise of the IMF. We saw this in 1998 in Indonesia. The United States decided to oust President Suharto, a loyal American client for thirty years. There was a meltdown of the rupiah. The boys from the IMF flew in and advised Suharto to float the currency, close down the banks and raise fuel prices. Suharto took the advice for the simple reason that it had never occurred to him not to do what Washington ordered. Widespread rioting ensued and Suharto went – just as the US Government expected.

America rules on account of new-fangled bogus international courts of law. By setting up the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the United States served notice on political leaders everywhere that if they fall out of line they might find themselves yanked off to the Hague, there to spend the rest of their lives behind bars. The United States, of course, does not take international courts seriously. If it did, it would have to subordinate itself to the dictates of other powers-an unthinkable proposition. Whatever one may think of the International Criminal Convention, at least it has some standing in international law. Nations that sign it voluntarily cede their sovereignty. The ICTY, on the other hand, has no standing in international law, since it was set up by one group of nations to rule over another group of nations. It is exactly the kind of Court the United States favors – one completely under its control. It is there to intimidate other countries. Is it likely that it will indict Bill Clinton for his unquestioned war crimes? Is it conceivable that someone will seize Madeleine Albright after she leaves office and haul her off to the Hague? Of course not. Anyone who tries to do that will soon find himself subjected to a barrage of cruise missiles.

Is there anything we can do about the New World Order? Is there anything we can do to free ourselves from the global tyranny of the United States? I do not expect much to change here at home in the foreseeable future. Ordinary Americans may not be very enthusiastic about US military capers, but they are not suffering too much as a consequence either. The bombing of Yugoslavia was not popular. On the other hand, it was not particularly unpopular. It was not expensive and there were no US casualties. As for the the US elite, running an empire is too exciting to be given up without a fight. Therefore, anyone – whether Pat Buchanan or anyone else – who dares to question the American empire will be subjected to a vicious campaign of slander. As for the Republicans, they simply do not believe they have the ability intellectually to challenge the elite. In this they are probably right. George W. Bush first expressed skepticism about the bombing of Yugoslavia. Then, confronted by vituperation from the military-media he beat a hasty retreat. It turned out, his only problem with the bombing was that it was not "ferocious" enough.

No, change will only come from without. Americans will not abandon their military interventions until they begin to face real costs. This will not happen until rivals to the United States emerge. I am sure a number of you will disagree with me here. But one power I have hopes for is the European Union. I was never a great fan of the EU until I saw how uncomfortable it made US policymakers feel. So I thought, anything that troubles the United States as much as the EU does can’t be all bad. At the moment the European Union is largely an economic power. But, slowly and surreptitiously it is developing its military power. This drives Washington up the wall. At regular intervals, they go to the Europeans and demand to know what they are up to. Are they building a rival to NATO? Certainly not, cry the Europeans, they are building a complement to NATO. The Europeans are lying. The Americans know the Europeans are lying. And the Europeans know the Americans know they are lying. But the charade goes on. At some point, Europe will emerge as a commercial, financial and military challenger to the United States.

There is also Russia. Kosovo had a traumatic effect on the Russians. They saw how feeble they had become and the disdain in which the United States held them. They are now rapidly building up their armed forces. They are also busily crushing the Chechens. Soon Russia will probably try to restore the old Soviet Union. The East European empire has gone. But Ukraine may well be brought back – possibly by force – into the fold. The Baltic States, too, are vulnerable to Russian restoration. Eventually, Russia and Europe could team up and create a massive Eurasian power – a very real rival to the United States.

And there is also China. The Chinese are deeply troubled by American power. Not for one minute do they believe that their embassy was bombed by mistake. And that is not surprising. The United States has yet to produce the four-year-old paper map that allegedly guided the bombing on that fateful night. The United States has yet to explain how it was possible for the greatest military force in the world to use paper maps – and not computers – to pinpoint targets. And the United States has yet to explain why it did not know where the Chinese embassy was located. In other words, the Chinese are convinced that their embassy was bombed deliberately to teach them how low they are in the pecking order. The Chinese have also taken appropriate action. They are ready to fight to prevent Taiwan from falling into America’s Asian orbit. They are crushing secessionist moves in Tibet and Xinjiang. And they are busily jailing people who they believe are weakening the state.

For the Cold War stalwarts among us there is something strange about rooting for someone other than the United States. There is something strange about rooting for the Russians to restore their empire. There is something strange about rooting for the Chinese over Taiwan. During the Second World War, the United States teamed up with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany. As soon as the War was over, the United States switched alliances and teamed up with non-Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union. For many years we believed that only the United States could save us from Communism. Now that the Cold War is over, we need to be saved from the United States. I know it seems odd to be looking for allies among the Russians, the Europeans and the Chinese. But, as they say, politics makes strange bedfellows.

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George Szamuely was born in Budapest, Hungary, educated in England, and has worked as an editorial writer for The Times (London), The Spectator (London), and the Times Literary Supplement (London). In America, he has been equally busy: as an associate at the Manhattan Institute, editor at Freedom House, film critic for Insight, research consultant at the Hudson Institute, and as a weekly columnist for the New York Press. Szamuely has contributed to innumerable publications including Commentary, American Spectator, National Review, the Wall Street Journal, National Interest, American Scholar, Orbis, Daily Telegraph, the Times of London, the Sunday Telegraph, and The New Criterion. His exclusive column for appears every Wednesday.

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