The US Role in a New World Order:
Prospects for George Bush's Global Vision
Stanley R. Sloan
Senior Specialist in International Security Policy
Research Coordination Office
March 28, 1991
Congressional Research Service The Library of Gongress
THE US.ROLJI IN A NEW WORLD ORDER:
PROSPECTS FOR GEORGE BUSH'S GLOBAL VISION
Thie report, deeigned to eupport congressional consideration of the "new
world order" concept, tracee the rhetorical development of the concept in
epeechee and etatements by Preeident Bueh and eenior Adminietration officiale,
seeking to identify the main goale and characterietia eought in the Bueh
approach. It extrapolatee, from Adminietration etatements, implied components
of the "new world order" in areas where Adminietration statements have either
been lacking or impreciee. It then analyze8 the main prerequieitee for
realization of the Bueh vieion thue derived and the major obetaclee that could
threaten its eucceee.
At the early etagee of George Bueh'e Preeidency, hie Adminietration'e
cautioue reaction to changed Soviet policiee in Europe led many obeervere to
comment that the Preeident'e policiee lacked "vieion." Although the
Adminietration initially rejected the criticism, Adminietration officiale euggeeted
that changee in Soviet policy already permitted the United States to move
"beyond containment." In answer to the queetion of what lie8 beyond
containment, the Adminietration answered "a Europe whole and free." Late in
1989, the democratic revolution in Eastern and Central Europe appeared to be
making that vieion a reality, creating what the Adminietration began
acknowledging as "a new world." The Preeident'e advocacy over the last eix
months of a "new world order" to replace the four-decadee-old Cold War
etructure of international relatiom may be eeen as the culmination of this
proceee of development in the Adminietration'e policiee a proceee that began
in reaction to the end of the Cold War but which became a conceptual policy
framework only in the crucible of the Peraian Gulf crieie and war.
Key ingredients of a new world order as euggeeted by Preeident Bueh'e
approach would include continuing US.-Soviet cooperation, the promotion of
democratic values and free market economies on a global d e , effective
deterrence of military threats to the new order, active diplomacy to prevent and
reeolve disputee, and development programs to enhance support for and etakes
in a more orderly international syetem.
The concept of a "new world order" has already attracted wide attention
among commentatore, foreign governments, academia, and Membere of
Congress. Assumptions and epeculations on the content of the order
contemplated have been wide-ranging. The concept has been criticized from 1he
political left for what ie viewed as premature reliance on military force to reetore
order as eeen in the Persian Gulf; it has been criticized from the political right
as being too dependent on cooperation with the Soviet Union. The implication8
for the U.S. role in the world, defeme commitments and epending, allied
relatiom, US.-Soviet relations, a m control, foreign aid and other policy areas
could be profound. Congress therefore may wieh to examine and debate the
concept and its meaning for U.S. international security policies.
BACKGROUND: THE VISION THING .......................... 5
ORIGINS OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER CONCEPT ........... 5
The Gorbachev December 1988 United Nations Speech ........ 5
Gorbachev's Vieion versus Bush's Pragmatism .............. 7
A New World Built on a New Europe ..................... 11
THE CRUCIBLE OF THE PERSIAN GULF CRISIS ............ 12
KEY ELEMENTS OF PRESIDENT BUSH'S VISION ............... 21
GOALS OF A NEW WORLD ORDER ........................ 21
MEANS OF A NEW WORLD ORDER ....................... 21
THE ROLE OF THE UNITED STATES IN A NEW WORLD
ORDER ........................................... 22
CRITICAL DETERMINANTS OF A NEW WORLD ORDER . . . . . . 23
THE NEW WORLD ORDER AND ITS SKEPTICS ................. 25
CRITICISMS ........................................... 25
IMPLICATIONS FOR U.S. POLICY ............................. 33
COUNTERPOINTS TO THE CRITICS ....................... 33
THE ROLE OF THE CONGRESS IN A NEW WORLD ORDER . . . 35
THE US.ROLE IN A NEW WORLD ORDER:
PROSPECTS FOR GEORGE BUSH'S GLOBAL VISION
The anewer to the frequently-asked question Is there a new world order?"
is: no, a new world order is a goal not a reality. It ie a goal that was expressed
by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in hie speech to the United Nations
General Assembly in December 1988, and it has become the goal or "vieion" of
the Bush Administration eince September 1990. There are many parallels
between the Bush and Gorbachev concepts, but even though Gorbachev first
articulated the goal, the Soviet Union has neither the political credibility nor
the resources to lead the globe toward a new order.
There certainly have been eufficient changes in global political and military
relationships to suggest that there is at least a "new Europe" and perhaps a
"new world." But the problem of bringing some sort of order to this new world
is a much more complex and difficult challenge.
A new world order, as described in epeeches by President Bush, would
require a number of features that by no meane are guaranteed by the changes
in the international system wrought by the democratic revolution in Europe and
the outcome of the Persian Gulf War.
The key ingredients of the new world order envisioned by President Bush
continuing U.S.-Soviet cooperation, at least at the levels experienced
during the Persian Gulf crisis;
the promotion of democratic values and w k e t trade on a global scale,
based on the judgment that Western-style democracies with free
market economies provide the best available form of government and
deterrence of threata to the new order, which is based on the
assumption that just as democratic syeteme of government require
police forces to ensure orderly eocieties, eo an orderly international
eyetem requires both a set of rules of international conduct and ways
to deter or, if necessary, resist and punieh those who violate the rules;
effective diplomacy to prevent and resolve disputes, in recognition that
deep politicaVideological, economic, religious and ethnic differences
etill divide the globe, to minimize the necessity of resort to force to
resolve differences; and
development programs to enhance support for and etakes in a more
orderly international system.
This list of requirements illustrates the dificulty of achieving the implied
ends of George Bush's vision. Progress toward a new world order, according to
President Bush's approach, requires a degree of cooperation with the Soviet
Union a t least sufficient to prevent a re-polarization of the international system.
It also requires a more effective United Nations .as a vehicle for international
consensus building and conflict resolution, and a strong U.S. leadership role.
Given the turmoil in the Soviet Union, it will for some time be difficult or
even unwiee to count on Soviet cooperation in dealing with international issues.
In Europe, the United States has tried to eteer a course between constructing
a more cooperative European security syetem in the framework of the
Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and preserving a
vital Western military alliance in NATO. It may be necessary to follow a eimilar
"parallel paths" hedging strategy in pursuit of a new world order to allow for the
potential vicissitudes of Soviet developmenta.
The United Nations can be seen as a deficient instrument for a new world
order, for example because the Security Council does not accurately reflect
contemporary power relationships in the international system and the General
Assembly is more a symbol of international divisions than of unity. But the
United Nations does provide a focal point where international consensus can be
identified and translated into action. There ie no inconsistency between trying
to make the United Nations more effective and paying attention to the impact
of power relationships in the international system. Further, the fact that the
concept of a new world order draws on a certain moral tradition in U.S. foreign
policy should be a strength, not a weakness, as long as policymakers underetand
power relationships and factor them into their calculations.
In addition, policymakers may wish to take into account the fact that to the
extent that the United States commits itaelf to international cooperation in
managing a new world order, it also may limit the scope of ita own potential for
The question of the U.S. role in a new world order raisee a number of
important issues for the Congress. At a time when the Congress is facing a
variety of important budget dilemmas and issues concerning the cost of the
Persian Gulf War, it is logical to ask how much the U.S. role in a new world
order is going to cost and whether we can afford to play the role envisioned by
the President. It appears impossible to project any price tag for a new wcrld
order, to eay nothing of seeking to allocate thoee coeta internationally. Given
the broad outlines of the President's concept, however, and the recent
experience with the Persian Gulf War, the Congresa may wieh to help establish
some broad parameters concerning the role of the U.S. military in enforcing a
new order and the implications for U.S. force structure, deployment and defense
spending, the ways in which foreign assietance might be used to support
development of the order, the extent to which the United States expecta other
countries to share the military and other burdena of a new order, and the role
of traditional U.S. alliances and the United Nationa in a new order.
BACKGROUND: THE VISION THING
ORIGINS OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER CONCEPT
Much speculation haa focused on the origins of the Bush Adminiatration's
advocacy of a new world order. Political cartoonists have seized on the sweeping
scope of the term. Some commentators have noted the unfortunate rhetorical
similarity to Adolph Hitler's call for a "neue Ordnung new order," a verbal
similarity that reportedly troubled eome advieore to the President.'
More pitively, observers have noted that the term appeara in Latin (novus
ordo seclorum) on the aeal of Yale University, President Bush's alma mater -perhape a clue to ita appeal to the President? The mme Latin phrase also
appeara on the Great Seal of the United States, reproduced prominently on the
one dollar bill. These references in their appropriate historical context were
intended in the nation's infancy to dietinguish between the "new world" order
and the "old world" European order. In the contemporary setting, President
Bush's concept appears largely dependent on developmenta in the "old world"
that are seen as opening the way toward new international security
relationships. And according to press reporta, Brent Scowcroft, the President's
national security advisor, suggested the vision of a new world order during a
long ride on the President's speedboat off the coast of Kennebunkport, Maine,
not long after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.~Scowcroft reportedly
told an interviewer on August 25, 1990 that "we are already seeing the
emergence of a new world ordernand the President referred to the concept in an
interview five days later.3
The Gorbachev December 1988 United Nations Speech
The most direct and interesting roota of the "new world order" rhetoric are
found in Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's speech to the United Nations
General Assembly on December 7, 1988,' just one month after George Bush
had been elected Preeident of the United States. This speech is best
'Fred Barnes, "Brave new gimmick," The New Republic, February 25,1991,
?Doyle McManus, "Bush's Vision of a 'New World Order' Still Unclear," Los
Angeles Times, Zebruary 18, 1991, pA9.
%m Weiner, "New World Order is Not Yet Defined," Philadelphia Enquirer,
March 3,1991, p.2C.
'Statement by Mikhail S. Gorbachev, President of the Presidium of the
Supreme Soviet of the USSR, General Secretary of the Central committee of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union, at a Plenary Meeting of the United
Nations General Assembly, December 7, 1988, official English translation
provided by the government of the Soviet Union.
remembered for Gorbachev's announcement of deep unilateral cuts in the Soviet
Union's military forces and his intent to withdraw some forces from Warsaw
At the time, the portions of Gorbachev's United Nations speech that
preceded the force reduction pledges were largely diemissed as boilerplate. But
in light of President Bush's adoption of the "new world order" motif, the
framework that Gorbachev suggested in his speech becomes much more
interesting. After a brief introduction, Gorbachev aeeerkd that 'The idea of
democratizing the entire world order has become a powerful socio-political
force." He went on to argue that "the scientific and technological revolution has
turned many economic, food, energy, environmental, information and population
problems, which only recently we treated as national or regional ones, into
global problems." And he further acknowledged that, due to the advances in
information technology and transportation, "the preservation of any kind of
'closed' societies is hardly poesible." Gorbachev argued that new approaches
are required to deal effectively with the challenges to the international system.
With phrases whose essence could have been uttered by a U.S. President as
well as a Soviet leader, Gorbachev went on:
Today, further world progress is only possible through a search
for universal human consensus as we move forward to a new world
order. [emphasis added]
We have come to a point when the disorderly play of elemental
forces leads into an impasse. The international community must learn
how it can shape and guide developments in such a way as to preserve
our civilization, to make it safe for all and more conducive to normal
In words that were more clearly from a beleaguered Soviet perspective,
Gorbachev cautioned that interference in the internal affairs of other states in
order to redirect their policies could destroy chances for establishing a "peaceful
order." He then went on to present what has become a key principle of Soviet
Gorbachev said that by the end of 1990 the Soviet Union
would reduce the numerical strength of Soviet armed forces by 600,000 men and
withdraw six tank divisions from East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary
and disband them. In addition, Gorbachev promised to: withdraw assault
landing troops and other particularly offensively-oriented forces from Eastern
Europe; reduce Soviet East European forces by 60,000 men and 6,000 tanks;
restructure forces remaining in Eastern Europe toward a "clearly defensive"
structure; cut Soviet forces in the Atlantic-tu-the-Urale area by a total of 10,000
tanks, 8,600 artillery systems, and 800 combat aircraft; and reduce "significantly"
Soviet forcee stationed in Mongolia.
policy in the post-Afghanistan era and which influenced the Soviet approach to
the Persian Gulf War, arguing that "the use or threat of force no longer can or
must be an instrument of foreign policy." In a message perhaps directed more
to the home front than to the international community, as justification for the
unilateral force reductions he was preparing to announce, Gorbachev argued
that "one-sided reliance on military power ultimately weakens other components
of national security."'
Gorbachev also noted the importance of U.S.-Soviet cooperation t o make
the "new world order" workB and the key role of the United Nations and of
This Gorbachev speech and the decisions reflected in it probably played a .
major role in stimulating the unravelling of support for the Communist regimes
in Eastern Europe and, ultimately, in foretelling the demise of the Warsaw Pact.
It also appears to have had a notable, albeit delayed, effect on the then-forming
Bush Administration, beginning a process within the Administration that
eventually led to President Bush's articulation of the new world order goal.
Gorbachev's Vision versus Bush's P r a g m a t i s m
George Bush and the top officials he gathered around him, particularly
Secretary of State James Baker and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft,
were known, whether correctly or not, for their pragmatism rather than their
political creativity when they assumed responsibilities in managing the nation's
affairs in 1989. Moreover, they apparently believed that, with things in Europe
and in U.S.-Soviet relations developing in ways beneficial to U.S. interests, there
was no need for any particular "vision" to serve as a counterpart to that adopted
by Gorbachev. Perhaps Bush and his advisors were reluctant to articulate
prematurely a vision that could return to haunt them later, as the Reagan
Administration had been plagued by President Reagan's advocacy of a nonnuclear world.
President Bush did project a vision for the future of US.-Chinese relations
quite early in his Administration, and chose to visit China in February 1989,
soon after assuming office." The President's vision of a China whose
interaction with the United States and the rest of the world would progressively
move it toward a more open society with improved human rights, however,
suffered a serious setback with the Tiananmen Square massacre just a few
months later. Perhaps this tragedy and setback for the President's policy also
"See Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. The White House.
Washington, D.C., 1989, p. 238-239; 246-250; 291; 403.
discouraged the articulation of more broadly based vision for the
Administrations'e policy toward evolving communist regimes.
Nonethelese, key advisers to the President were obviously imtated by
commentatore who observed that the Adminietration appeared to be losing a
public relations game to the Savieta for lack of a clear vision. Administration
oficiale privately critiqued Gorbachev's call for a "common European home," a
key building block in Gorbachev'e new world order. The Preeident and other
officials complained about "this vision thing," and euggested that the wellestablished and effective advocacy of a world of democratic and free nations was
euficient articulation of U.S. foreign policy goals.
By mid-1989, the Administration began to respond with some rhetoric of ita
own, opting, however, for more pragmatic, leee grandioee visions, such as
proclaiming that we had entered the "post-containment" world and advocating
a Europe "whole and free." President Bueh articulated these themes in a seriee
of speechee in May 1989. In a speech at Boston University on May 21, 1989,
President Bush eaid that InTexas, I spoke to another group of graduatee of our
new approach to the Soviet Union, one of moving beyond containment to seek
to integrate the Soviets into the community of nations...."12 Addressing the
graduating class a t the Coast Guard Academy on May 24, 1989, the President
acknowledged that "There's an opportunity before us to shape a new world,"
describing this "new world" as one in which there is "a growing community of
democraciee anchoring international peace and etability, and a dynamic freemarket wetem generating prosperity and progress on a global scale." The
President noted that there was "dramatic"change going on in the Soviet Union,
but mid that the change was "unfinished" and challenged the Soviet leadership
to "restructure its relationships with the reet of the world" as well as in its
The President was not prepared yet to undemrite residence of the Soviet
Union in a common European house or to support a joint effort in the
construction of a "new world order" as proposed by Gorbachev. But Bush
opened the door to these options by proclaiming that "now we have a precious
opportunity to move beyond containment" and that the goal of integrating the
Soviet Union into the community of nationa was "every bit as ambitious as
containment was a t its time."lS
The "Europe whole and free" theme emerged prominently in President
Bush's speech one week later in Mainz, Germany. The President's speech
almost self-consciouely addressed the "vision" criticism first by noting that the
process of change in Europe had begun with a Western vieion:
'?be Future of Europe," an address by President George Bush a t the
Boston University commencement ceremony, Boston, hhmachusetts, May 21,
1989, Department of State Current Policy No. 1177, p.1.
lS"SecurityStrategy for the 1990e," an addrees by President George Bush at
the Coast Guard Academy graduation ceremony, New London, Connecticut, May
24, 1989, U.S. Department of State Current Policy No. 1178, p. 1,2.
At firet, there was the vieion, the concept of free peoplee in North
America and Europe working to protect their valuee. And second,
there was the practical eharing of rieks and burdene and a realietic
recognition of Soviet expaneioniem. And finally, there was the
determination to look beyond old animoaitiee. The NATO alliance did
nothing less than provide a way for Weetern Europe to heal centurieeold rivalries, to begin an era of reconciliation and reetoration."14
After listing four propoeale for a "whole and free Europe," including
progress toward greater political freedom in Eastern Europe, overcoming the
divieion of Berlin, dealing with European environmental problem, and moving
toward a less militarized Europe, Preeident Bueh described them as "each a
noble goal" and declared that "taken together they are the foundation of our
larger vieion a Europe that is free and a t peace with itaelf."lb
At thie point in mid-1989, even in a major epeech deeigned to have a
poeitive effect on public opinion in Europe, the Adminietration was reluctant to
look much beyond immediate goale and to articulate a vieion that went beyond
Europe. In particular, the Adminietration remained defeneive concerning
Gorbachev'e vieion and was reluctant to accept the Soviet Union as a partner
in ehaping the future either of Europe or of the world. In epite of the
Preeident'e Mainz epeech, o b e e ~ e r econtinued to note the abeence of anything
that could compete with the ecope of Gorbachev'e approach. For example, an
editorial in the Boeton Globe argued in mid-November 1989 that "The need for
Bueh to project an American vieion of the future has nothing to do with
domeetic politics, nor with a puerile popularity conteet between the leadere of
the euperpowere. It ie a need that has been created by hietory by the
beginning of the end of the Cold War."16
Preeident Bueh eeemed to eignal a eomewhat broader approach in his
Thanksgiving addrees to the Nation on November 22,1989. Following as it did
the breaching of the Berlin Wall, the epeech displayed a more ambitious rhetoric,
eaying that "We now can dare to imagine a new world, with a new Europe,
rieing on the foundatione of democracy." This language linked the developments
in Europe with the potential for a global vieion, but etopped ehort of any
further development of the concept. And in fact, the Preeident'e remarks
eeemed to reflect eome reeidual defeneiveneee when he added that "Thie new
""Propoeale for a Free and Peaceful Europe," Addreee by Preeident George
Bueh a t the Rheingoldhalle, Mainz, Federal Republic of Germany, May 31,1989,
U.S. Department of State Current Policy No. 1179, p.1.
'&The Vieion Thing," Editorial, The Boeton Globe, November 16,1989, p.18.
world was taking ehape when my presidency began with these words: The day
of the dictator ie over."17
Though there was an incremental formulation of future directiom in the
Preeident's speeches, it did not create more than a regional framework for
epeechee by other Admini&ration officiale. Secretary of State Baker made a
major speech in Berlin on December 12, 1989 that became the central U.S.
statement on the future organization of Europe, foreseeing major rolee for
NATO, the European Community (EC), and the Conference on Security and
Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in the new European security architecture.18
But the Baker speech stopped short of linking this European architecture to a
broader global vieion or structure.
Early in 1990,Administration officiale continued to develop the themee that
had initially been laid out by the President, mme of them reaching toward
perspectives that implied that the changes in the Soviet Union and in Europe
had broader implicatiom. The concept of a "new world" in addition to a "new
Europe" became more and more prominent, but there was very little description
of how the United States thought the new world should be ordered. Secretary
Baker, testifying before the Houee Committee on Foreign Affairs in February
1990 emphasized the continuing importance of U.S. leadership "in fulfilling the
promise of this new age of democracy..." and in bringing about "a new world of
peace and freed~m."'~
Baker ale0 emphasized the importance of U.S. leaderehip
in a speech in March 1990 saying that "In the new world struggling to be born,
like the old world now rapidly paesing away, there is no substitute for American
leadership." The main message of the speech, however, remained that "beyond
containment liee demo~racy,"~~hard to argue against, but not widely
perceived as the stuff of which new "vieiom" are made.
Meanwhile, other ofiiciale appeared to be contributing to the developing
approach and applying it to other regions of the world. For example, Assietant
Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Af'fairs Richard Solomon, in a
17"Europe's New Pilgrims: A Voyage to Freedom," President Bueh'e
Thanksgiving Day addreee to the nation, Camp David, Maryland, November 22,
1989, Department of State Current Policy No. 1229, p.1.
lbA New Europe, A New Atlanticiem: Architecture for a New Era," prepared
addrees of Secretary of State Jamee Baker to the Berlin Preee Club a t the
Steigenberger Hotel in Berlin, Germany, December 12, 1989, Department of
State Current Policy No. 1233.
'*A Budget Blueprint for Fiscal Year 1991," statement by Secretary of State
James Baker before the House Foreign Af'faire Committee on February 22,1990,
Washington, D.C., Department of State Current Policy No. 1256.
wemocracy and American Diplomacy," addreee by Secretary of State James
Baker before the World Affaire Council, Dallas, Texas, March 30, 1990,
Department of State Current Policy No. 1266, p.1.
epeech on April 10, 1990, included many themes that eubeequently were
overtaken by or eubeumed within Preeident Bueh'e new world order rhetoric.
The eventa of thie past year revealed how rapidly we are being
propelled by global trencb toward a new era in international affairs.
Communiem hm ahown itself to be bankrupt as an economic and
political system. We are moving toward a eingle, integrated global
economy eparked by epectacular technological change. Worldwide,
there ie a seemingly inexorable trend toward democracy, away from
statiem and toward democracy, away from etatiem and toward open
market e c o n o m i ~ . ~ ~
The U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American Statee, Luigi R.
Einaudi, teetifying before a Houee eubcommittee, linked affairs in the Weetern
hemiephere to the emerging new world. According to Ambaaaador Einaudi, a
wide range of activities of the Organization of American Statee "require
practical, productive, and patient contributiom if we are to deal with the iseuee
of the next century in a manner befitting the potential of the new w ~ r l d . " ~
A New World Built on a New Europe
By mid-1990, the Adminietration'e concept of a new Europe "whole and
free" had become a more explicit foundation for the assertion that there was a
"new world" emerging. But no Administration etatement appeared to make the
analyeie of thie jump from the European regional to the international level.
Why ehould the emergence of a new Europe mean that a new world was
emerging that would affect U.S. relations in Asia, Latin America, and eleewhere?
One answer to thie question perhaps was provided even before the full
emergence of the new world theme in a epeech by the U.S. Ambassador to the
United Natiom, Thomas R. Pickering in November 1989.29 According to
21"U.S.and Japan: An Evolving Partnership," addreee by Richard Solomon,
Aseietant Secrehry for East Asian and Pacific Maire, before the Foreign
Correepondenta Club of Japan, Tokyo, April 10, 1990, Department of State
Current Policy No. 1268, p.1.
w e United Statee and the OAS," etatement by Luigi R. Einaudi, U.S.
Permanent Representative t~the Organization of American Statee, before the
Subcommittee on Weetern Hemisphere Maire and the Subcommittee on Human
Righta and International Organizatiom of the House Foreign M a i r e Committee,
Washington, D.C., May 1,1990, Department of State Current Policy No. 1279.
%The U.S. and UN: The Decade Ahead," address by Ambaseador Thomas
R. Pickering, Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations, before the
United Nations Association of the United States National Conference on the
United Statee and United Nations, Washington, D.C., November 9, 1989,
Department of State Current Policy No. 1232.
The remarkable thing is that today we see more clearly than ever
the possibilities of fulfilling some of the goals which inspired us a t the
end of the Second World War. At no time in the past have the five
permanent members of the Security Council worked more closely
together, thereby fulfilling the basic premise of the organization in
maintaining international peace and security.%
The most important consequence of change in Europe for the rest of the
globe was the emergence of a more benign Soviet Union. President Gorbachev
had promised such a development in his December 1988 United Nations speech,
but the Bush Administration had essentially responded that the "proof is in the
pudding." Pickering's speech nearly one year after the Gorbachev speech
suggested that the Soviet Union's actions had reflected its words, at least a t the
United Nations, allowing the UN Security Council to operate as it had been
intended and giving more leeway for the UN Secretary General to maneuver.25
By mid-1990, the Administration had not yet explicitly accepted the goal of a
new world order, but numerous Administration omcials had begun to use the
concept of a "new world" as a n organizing and justifying theme for their
presentations. The key ingredients for a new world order -- a more cooperative
Soviet Union (and China) and a consequently more effective United Nations as
a vehicle for action -- were in place. It remained for the Iraqi invasion and
occupation of Kuwait to bring both the rhetoric and reality of U.S. policy into
something recognizable as a possible new world order framework.
TEIl3 CRUCIBLE OF THE PERSIAN GULF CRISIS
Had it not been for the improved prospects for U.S.-Soviet cooperation and
the higher hopes for the United Nations, President Bush might not have been
able to respond with so much confidence of international support when Iraqi
forces invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990. With the explicit support of the
Soviet Union and the other permanent members26 of the Security Council, the
Council meeting a t U.S. request on August 2 passed Resolution 660 calling for
the unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait. On August 3, the
Soviet Union joined the United States in calling on the international community
to halt all arms shipments to Iraq. On August 6, the Security Council passed
Resolution 661 instituting broad economic, trade and financial sanctions against
Iraq. Throughout the crisis, the Soviet Union largely supported U.S. diplomatic
efforts and initiatives in the United Nations designed to force Iraq to withdraw
from Kuwait. Moscow's attempt to broker a cease fire prior to the initiation of
26Browne, Marjorie Ann, "Iraq-Kuwait: The United Nations Response,"
Congressional Research Service Issue Brief 90147, Washington, D.C. [updated
26Thepermanent members of the Security Council are China, France, United
Kingdom, United States, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
the ground war appeared a t least partially intended to ensure a continuing role
for the Soviet Union in the post-war ~ e t t l e m e n t . ~
The month of August 1990 witnessed the first test of a new world order
that had not yet even been proclaimed by the United States (although President
Gorbachev had articulated such a vieion eome 20 m o n t h before). It did not take
long for the Administration to produce an explanation of the broader questions
a t issue. Testifying before the House Committee on Foreign Maire on
September 4, Secretary of State Baker mid that the international community
would have to decide whether or not to tolerate or oppose aggression in the new
era. The reference point, Baker argued, should be the "standards for civilized
behavior found in the UN Chartern and the goal ehould be to "build on the
promise of recent trends in Europe and elsewhere. We must seize this .
opportunity to eolidify the ground rules of the new orderTm According to
If we are to build a stable and more comprehensive peace, we
must respond to the defining momenta of this new era, recognizing the
emerging dangers lurking before us. We are entering an era in which
ethnic and sectarian identities could easily breed new violence and
conflict. It is an era in which new hostilities and threata could erupt
as misguided leaders are tempted to assert regional dominance before
the ground rules of a new order can be accepted.%
Secretary Baker acknowledged explicitly that the "ground rulesn of a new
order had not yet been agreed, but made it clear that the Gulf crisis could play
a mqjor part in defining those rules. A week later, President Bush put some
more meat on the still-meager bones of the Administration's new world order
concept in his speech to a joint session of the Congress on the Persian Gulf
In order to work toward a new order, President Bush said that the United
States and other countries must defend vital interesta, support the rule of law,
and stand up to aggression. According to the President,
nFor an initial assessment of the foreign policy "lessonsnof the Pereian Gulf
War, see Mark M. Lowenthal, "The Persian Gulf War: Preliminary Foreign
Policy "Leesonan and Perceptions," CRS Report 91-260, March 18, 1991.
mAmerica's Stake in the Pereian Gulf Crisis," Secretary of State James
Baker's prepared statement to the House Foreign rnairs Committee, September
4,1990, Department of State Current Policy No. 1297, p.1.
*Toward a New World Order," address by President George Bush before a
joint session of the Congress, Washington, D.C., September 11, 1990,
Department of State Current Policy No. 1298.
We stand today a t a unique and extraordinary moment. The
crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare
opportunity to move toward a historic period of cooperation. Out of
these troubled times, our fifth objective--a new world order-can
emerge; a new era-freer fkom the threat of terror, stronger in the
pursuit of justice, and more secure in the quest for peace, an era in
which the nations of the world, E a t and West, North and South can
prosper and live in harmony?'
The President emphasized the importance of the rule of law in
international affairs, as Gorbachev had in his December 1988 UN speech:
[the new world order should be] a world where the rule of law
supplanta the rule of the jungle, a world in which nations recognize
the shared responsibility for freedom and justice, a world where the
strong respect the righta of the weaka
He described the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait as the first threat to the
potential for a new world order:
[the Iraqi takeover of Kuwait] is the first assault on the new
world that we seek, the first test of our mettle. Had we not responded
to this first provocation with clarity of purpose, if we do not continue
to demonstrate our determination, it would be a signal to actual and
potential despota around the worldaM
And he justified the deployment of U.S.forces to the Gulf region along with
those of coalition partners to defend the potential for the new world order:
At this very moment, [Americans] serve together with Arabs,
Europeans, Asians, and Africana in defense of principle and the dream
of a new world order. That is why they sweat and toil in the sand and
the heat of the sun."
President Bush also emphasized the importance of American leadership to
the new world order. This theme, which recurred fkequently in succeeding
months, became one of the most important elementa of the Administration's
approach. It reflected a shift from a more modest assertion of the U.S.role in
the world that the Administration had taken upon assuming office, and it ran
directly counter to those who were arguing that the relative decline in U.S.
power and influence made it impossible for the United States to play the world
leadership role that it had in the
Throughout the Persian Gulf conflict, including the President's January
1991 State of the Union address and his speech to the Congress a t the end of
the war, the new world order concept waa a recurring theme. But no one speech
attempted to explain the concept'e genesis, defend ifs logic, deacribe ifs
componenfs, or analyze ita requirements and implications for U.S. policy.
Nonetheless, the sum total of the President's speeches did add incrementally to
the concept's development.
On September 26, 1990, President Bush linked the roles of the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to his concept of a new world
order. Bush argued that "...in a world where ideology no longer confronfs and
big-power blocs no longer divide, the bank and the fund have become paradigms
of international c~operation."'~
Explicit reference to the important role of the United Natione in any new
world order came in President Bush's speech to the UN General Assembly on
October 1, 199OnS7The President noted, aa Ambaseador Pickering had a year
earlier, that the United Natione now might be able to function aa it had been
intended in the security field. President Bush acknowledged the importance of
the Soviet Union's role in permitting this change, saying that "The changes in
the Soviet Union have been critical to the emergence of a stronger United
Nations. The US-Soviet relationship is finally beyond containment and
confrontation, and now we eeek to fulfill the promise of mutually shared
The President went on to talk about a "vision of a new partnership of
nations that transcends the Cold War."s8 He then attempted to put some meat
on the bones of the new world order concept, saying that his vision is of a new
96Fora variety of perspectives on this issue, see the proceedings of a seminar
held by the Congressional Research Service on November 19-20, 1989 in: U.S.
Congress. House. Committee on Foreign Maim. Subcommittee on
International Economic Policy and Trade. U.S. Power in a Changing World.
Report prepared by the Congressional Research Service, lOlst Congress, 2d
eession. Washington, G.P.O., May 1990,131 p.
%dividual Choice and Economic Growth," remarks of President George
Bush to the IMF-World Bank annual meeting, September 25,1990, Waahingon,
D.C., Department of State Current Policy No. 1301, p.2.
s7nTheUN: World Parliament of Peace," address by President George Bush
before the United Nations General Assembly, New York, October 1, 1990,
Department of State Current Policy No. 1303.
world order that: features open borders, open trade, open minds; celebrates
humanity as well as hometown and homeland; is characterized by competitive
spirit built on a "quest for excellence"; models democracy on the experience of
the Americas, "the world's first completely democratic hemisphere"; and takes
the emerging model of European unity and builds a "whole world whole and
Aa the Persian Gulf crisis continued to move from confrontation toward
war, major steps were taken to mark the end of the Cold War in Europe during
the last montba of 1990. These steps included an agreement on the
international conditiona for the reunification of Germany'l and the Paris
Summit meeting of the leadera of the 34 members of the Conference on Security
and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), where Presidents George Bueh and Mikhail
Gorbachev joined in signing a Treaty on Conventional Armed Forcee in Europe
(CFE)12and a Taris Charter for a New Europe." The Paris Charter made
specific reference to the link between the changes in Europe and the potential
for more effective global cooperation in the United Nations. According to the
The deetiny of our nationa is linked to that of all other nations.
We eupport fully the United Nations and the enhancement of its role
promoting international peace, eecurity and justice. We a i r m our
commitment to the principles and purposes of the United Nations as
enshrined in the Charter and condemn all violations of these
principles. We recognize with satisfaction the gmwing m& of the
United NrrHont in world affain and ftu incrwuing effectimnem,
fiutemd by impmmment in mkrtbnt among our Stateu.(emphaeis
The Paris meeting marked a clear departure from Cold War relationships
in Europe to new, more cooperative relationships among all European countries,
the United States and Canada. The Charter of Paris did not guarantee such
cooperation, but provided new venues for cooperation by making meetings of the
CSCE members more routine, backed by some limited institutional foundations
and staff. With most Central European countries moving in one degree or
''The so-called 2+4 treaty on the external aspects of German unification was
signed on September 12, 1990 in Moecow by the foreign minieters of the two
Germanye, the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and
'2The Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, requiring eubstantial
reductions in Soviet military forces in Europe and establishing a cooperative
compliance regime among the signatories, was signed by the leaders of the 22
NATO and Warsaw Pact states on November 19,1990.
'%e Charter of Paris for a New Europe, signed in Paris, France, November
21,1990 by the leaders of 32 European countries, the United States and Canada.
another toward reform of their political and economic syetems, the future of
cooperative structures in Europe clearly depended on whether or not reform
policies could be sustained in the Soviet Union. If so, the new Europe that was
given birth in Paris could eventually transform European relationships a t all
levels. If not, the new Europe might stretch not from the Atlantic to the Urals
but only from the Atlantic to the Western bordera of the Soviet Union. And just
as a cooperative aecurity w t e m in Europe depended heavily on the constructive
contributions of a reforming Soviet Union, so would the potential for the
emergence of any new world order as sought by George Bush.
The United States and ita coalition partners, eupported by United Nations
resolutions and congressional authorization of the uee of force to free Kuwait
from Iraqi control, began attacking Iraqi targeta with massive air strikes on
January 16, 1991. Two weeke later, President Bush went before the Congress
to present his State of the Union address amidst great uncertainty concerning
the ultimate costa of the ongoing hostilities. President Bush argued that the
war in the Gulf was for much more than the defense of one small country.
According to the President,
What is a t stake [in the Persian Gulf War] is more than one small
country, it is a big idea: a new world order where diverse nations are
drawn together in common cause to achieve the universal aspirations
of mankind peace and security, freedom and the rule of law....u
The President explicitly noted the potential deterrent effect of U.S. actions
in the Persian Gulf, arguing that the willingness of the international community
to respond decisively to aggression would serve as a lesson to othera who might
consider such actions in the future:
We will succeed in the gulf. And when we do, the world
community will have sent an enduring warning to any dictator or
despot, present or future, who contemplates outlaw aggres~ion.'~
The use of force in defense of the new world order therefore became an
explicit component of the President's concept, taking the U.S. approach down
a somewhat different path than the one described by President Gorbachev in his
UN speech, where he condemned resort to the use of military force in general.
But Gorbachev did not account for collective military action in response to the
use of force. During the Gulf crisis, Gorbachev supported, albeit with some
reluctance, the use of force against Iraq. According to President Bush, the
potential for collective military responses to aggression is critical to a new world
uSt.ate of the Union [text], President George Bush, The Washington Post,
January 30,1991, pA14.
The world can therefore seize this opportunity to fulfill the longheld promise of a new world order where brutality will go unrewarded
and aggression will meet collective r e ~ i s t a n c e . ~
On the question of the U.S. role, President Bush suggested that the United
States would be the principal leader toward and defender of the new order,
today, in a rapidly changing world, American leaderahip is
Yes, the United States beam a major ehare of leaderahip in this effort.
Among the nationr ofthe world, only the United
both the m o d rtcrnding and the m a n r to back U up. [emphasis added]
We're the only nation on this Earth that could assemble the forces of
Even though Mikhail Gorbachev took the initial lead toward "a new world
order," George Bush in his State of the Nation address asserted the claim of the
United States to leadership based on three main factore:
The moral standine of the United States. This claim is given strength
by the end of the Cold War which resulted in a victory for the
democratic n o r m long advocated by the Western countries led by the
The militam capabilities of the United States. This claim preceded the
impressive performance of a wide range of U.S. forces and weapons
eystema in the Persian Gulf War, but appeam to have been in large
part supported by the War's outcome.
The coalition-building ca~acitvof the United States. This claim
apparently is supported by the success of the United States in creating
and sustaining a broadly-based international coalition against Iraq in
the United Nations, among traditional allies, with Arab states, in the
application of international sanctions against Iraq, and on the
When President Bush next addressed the Congress, proclaiming an end to
the Gulf War, he once again referred to a new world order, on thie occasion
recalling the words of Winston Churchill, a t an earlier time when hopes for a
"new world" were equally high. According to President Bush,
Now, we can see a new world coming into view. A world in which
there is the very real prospect of a new world order. In the words of
Winston Churchill, a "world order" in which the principles of justice
and fair play protect the weak against the strong
A world where
the United Nations, freed from cold war stalemate, ie poised to fulfill
the historic vision of ita founders. A world in which freedom and
respect for human righta find a home among all ~ a t i o n s . ~
The President eaid that the war had put the new world to ita first test, and
W e passed that test." He cautioned that "[elven the new world order cannot
guarantee an era of perpetual peace" but said that "...enduring peace must be
Just aa on previous occaaione, the President slipped back and forth between
phrases implying that not only a "new world" but also a "new world order" exist
and worde describing the "new world order" as a goal, not an accomplished fact. .
In spite of this rhetorical ambiguity, however, it appears that the sense of the
President's approach is that the new world order ie eomething that "we seektw
not something that we can necessarily count on.
'&President Bush's Address to Congress on End of the Gulf War, New York
Time, March 7, 1991, pA8.
KEY ELEMENTS OF PRESIDENT BUSH'S VISION
Administration officials privately acknowledge that there has been no
interagency study, nor even a substantial options paper, prepared to undergird
the President's vision of new world order. There is not even one speech
dedicated to outlining, explaining and defending the concept. The record that
we have just traced through examination of speeches by President Bush and
Administration officials therefore is a summary of the public record of its
development. Even though none of these speeches or statements include much
detail on the concept, it is possible without much extrapolation to describe the
key elements of the approach. It might be useful to look a t these components
in terms of three questions:
What is a new world order intended to accomplish?;
What are the means to be used toward that end, and
what institutions will be critical to its effective
What is the role of the United States in relation to that
of other countries in creating and managing a new
GOALS OF A NEW WORLD ORDER
The main goal articulated by President Bush for the new world order is the
maintenance of international peace. The President's speeches also imply,
however, that in addition to peace, the new order should guarantee security,
defend freedom, promote democracy and enforce the rule of law (justice). As
such, these objectives do not differ in any substantial way from traditional U.S.
foreign and defense policy objectives or from the aims articulated in the UN
Charter or the Helsinki Final Act (of the Conference on Security and
Cooperation in Europe), for example.
MEANS OF A NEW WORLD ORDER
The starting point for a new world order is the process of change in
Europe. The democratic revolution in Europo and the emergence of a "new
Europe" clearly was a necessary precedent to the concept of a "new world." Key
institutions and processes in this "new Europe" therefore are also important
institutions for the new world order. In the Bush vision, the key institutions
are the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Community
(EC) and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). The
main roles of these three organizations, put most simply, are: for NATO, to
help ensure military security in Europe; for the EC, to promote economic and
political cooperation in Europe; and, for the CSCE, to promote cooperation
among all "European" nations including the United States, Canada, and the
Beyond Europe, the United Nations is the key diplomatic and political
center for implementing and operating a new world order. The UN was the
center of activity for trying, convicting and sentencing Iraq for its invasion of
Kuwait, and President Bush described this as a victory not just for the United
States and the members of the anti-Iraq coalition but also for the United
nation^.^^ By implication, a wide range of other international institutions will
be instrumental in pursuing the goals of the new world order, none of them as
politically central as the Security Council and General Assembly of the United
Nations, but all of them important in their specific areas of responsibilities.
These include, for example, the specialized agencies of the United Nations,
including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the Western Economic Summits, and so on.
Extrapolating beyond what the Administration has said in its statements,
one could conceive of regional cooperative security organizations in other parts
of the globe as building blocks of the new order. For example, one could
imagine sister organizations of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in
Europe in the MediterraneadMiddle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America
(where the Organization of American States may be said already to provide the
core of such a structure). Each regional building block would be part of the
United Nations system, attempting to promote cooperation and security in that
region with ultimate reference to the United Nations for issues that cannot be
settled on a regional basis.
On the national U.S. level, the implication of the Bush approach is that the
broad range of U.S. foreign and defense policy instruments would be a t least in
part at the service of the new world order goal. This suggests that the
requirements of the new world order would influence priorities in defense
spending, force structure, military deployments, foreign military assistance,
foreign aid, diplomacy, and so forth.
In the post-Cold War and post-Persian Gulf War environments, the
preferred tools of a new world order are diplomacy, economic development,
negotiation and political settlement. But it is also clear that deterrence of
aggression against the order requires military forces (U.S. and other) that are
capable of respondingeffectively to aggression with sufficient political consensus
to sustain the response, as in the reaction to Iraqi aggression against Kuwait.
THE ROLE OF THE UNITED STATES IN A NEW WORLD ORDER
The President has been quite explicit in outlining a leading role for the
United States both in creating and maintaining a new world order. Even
though Administration rhetoric has occasionally hedged by arguing that the
United States must "help" establish or play a "major role" (versus the leading
role) in a new order, the model of the Persian Gulf crisis is one of strong and
effective American leadership.
However, the fact that the United States took great pains to build an
international coalition and, in particular, to ensure the support of the Soviet
Union for the enterprise, reflects a much different set of policy assumptions
than the reality encountered by the United States in its go-it-alone approach in
Vietnam. In addition, the United States made it clear that it was not willing to
pay all, or even most, of the financial costs of the response to Iraqi aggression.
Protected Arab allies and traditional Cold War allies were expected to provide
military or financial support or both. George Bush's new world order vision
therefore appears to depend heavily on international support, if not complete
The implication of the Persian Gulf War experience is that George Bush's
vision includes the hope for continuing and expanding cooperation with the
Soviet Union and more willing assistance from traditional allies, particularly the
European countries and Japan, in supporting the new world order.
CRITICAL DETERMINANTS OF A NEW WORLD ORDER
A summary of George Bush's approach to a new world order might be
expressed in terms of the following five critical determinants:
The potential for a new world order was created by the changes in
Europe, and particularly by the changed Soviet approach to the world
that produced a new detente in U.S.-Soviet relations. The previous
polarization of international relations, based on U.S.-Soviet and EastWest differences, tended to block possible settlements of regional
security issues and encouraged some countries Iraq for example to
take advantage of the polarization to gain access to weaponry that
they might not have been sold or given if it were not for the polarized
The advent of a new Europe emphasized the strong force of
democracy in the world, and re-emphasized the validity of the goals
set for the global order following World War II, based on democratic
societies with free market economies cooperating to maintain peace.
The Persian Gulf crisis, particularly the effective international
response to Iraqi aggression, provides a strong deterrence foundation
for a new order, suggesting that aggression will be met with an
internationally-supported military response.
The outcome of the war provides an opportunity for diplomacy to
operate, seeking a peace process that would work toward a settlement
in the Middle East and reinvigorating the United Nations as a vehicle
for international conflict resolution and cooperation.
Finally, although the Preeident has not explicitly linked the new world
order concept to the growing gap between rich and poor natione in the
world, it is clear that economic development ie essential to more
orderly international relatione in the future. Without such a
component in a new world order, the gap between rich and poor
natione will leave the international eyetem divided and prone to crisis
in Third World areas.
According to this approach, then, the key ingrediente of the new world
order would have to include continuing U.S.Soviet cooperation, the promotion
of democratic values and free market economiee on a global d e , deterrence of
threate to the new order, effective diplomacy to prevent and resolve disputes,
and development programs to enhance support for and etakes in a more orderly
TEE NEW WORLD ORDER AND ITS SmPTICS
It is relatively easy to be skeptical about a concept as philosophically grand
and politically, militarily, and financially demanding as a "new world order."
And it is no surprise that the approach has attracted more or less equal portions
of support, bemused curiosity and studied criticism. The concept emerged in the
flow of international events rather than as the product of careful study, but in
any case a synergistic process of criticizing, defending, refining and bounding the
concept would be a necessary part of testing its logical integrity and its potential
domestic and international support.
The new world order concept has been criticized from a variety of political .
perspectives. A number of observers have been disturbed by what they see as
the approach's early reliance on the use of the military to enforce the order.
Political cartoonists have lampooned various aspects of the approach, including
the heavy reliance on U.S. leadership of the new world order.62 Other
commentators have criticized what they see as the approach's unrealistic
dependence on the actions of other powers and on the United Nations as a
vehicle for implementing and managing the order. Some observers have worried
about the extent to which President Bush's approach counts on Soviet (and
Chinese) cooperation to make it work. These and other concerns raise
important issues about a new world order.
The new world order concept places too much reliance on the use of
This criticism was virtually inevitable, given the fact that President Bush
only articulated the concept when he was seeking to build support for the U.S.
response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. In fact, the military deterrence aspect of
a new world order is one of the most prominent of the potential long term
consequences of the Persian Gulf crisis. This fact clearly troubles some
observers, including one columnist who wrote that although President Bush had
not yet defined exactly what he means by "a new world order," "...he has chosen
6?or example, Gary Trudeau's "Doonesbury" strip of Sunday, February 17,
1991, spoofed the concept in a White House scene featuring a Trudeau-authored
message on the Presidential answering machine: "Hello, you have reached the
headquarters of the world's policeman. All our lines are busy now, but if you'll
just stay on the line, a new world order representative will be with you shortly.
Please rest assured we will carry any burden and pay any price in order to assist
you. Please have your list of grievances handy so that we might better process
your call... If you are currently being invaded, please press one. If you are
experiencing a civil war, press two. Now enter your U.N. Resolution number ..."
the old order, namely war, to bring it a b o ~ t . "Anti-war
protestors in New
York City carried banners with skulls surrounding the slogan "welcome to the
new world order." This perspective was prominent in anti-war protests in
Europe as well as in the United States.
A new world order would rely too heavily on U.S. leadership.
The United States led the international coalition that defeated Iraq, and by
the end of the war, the Administration's emphasis on the importance of
American leadership in future had become prominent in its rhetoric. One
observer has argued that "We have entered a period of Pax Americana. Why
deny it? Every other nation on earth would like to be in our p ~ s i t i o n . "But
other observers have argued that the United States cannot afford to lead a new
world order if the burdens of leadership prevent it from dealing effectively with
U.S. domestic problems, such as the budget deficit, repair of the national
infrastructure, deficient industrial productivity, drugs, health care, and so on.
In the long run, according to this approach, domestic weakness would eventually
undermine the U.S. ability to lead, particularly to the extent that the United
States hopes to portray its social, economic and political system as a model for
others to follow.
A number of other observers have noted the political risks of an approach
that relies too heavily on the United States. Robert Hunter, an expert on
Europe and the Middle East who served on President Carter's National Security
Council staff, has observed that "It won't work if the United States defines the
new world order and the others are simply expected to salute."& Charles
Lichenstein, a former Reagan Administration official, agreed that "A lot of
people, including friends of ours, are becoming a little bit worried about the idea
of a Pax Americana ...."M The approach could be well beyond U.S. capabilities,
particularly if it is seen as primarily self-serving and U.S. leadership is resisted
or opposed by others. Some might already argue that the United States used
the Gulf crisis to establish U.S. dominance in the Middle East, undermine the
Soviet Union's international influence a t a time when they have been weakened
by internal turmoil, and undermine the United Nations by using it as a tool of
U.S. policy rather than as an instrument of international cooperation.
During the Persian Gulf crisis, the United States largely managed to
convince coalition partners to accept recommended U.S. approaches while also
convincing some of them to pick up most of the financial tab. In the future,
particularly in peacetime operation of any new order or in response to a less
w a r y McGrory, "Martial Arts," Washington Post, January 31, 1991, p.2.
%harles Krauthammer, "Bless Our Pax Americana," Washington Post,
March 22, 1991, p M 5 .
6 6 ~ u o t ein
d Doyle McManus, owit., phlO.
clear-cut good-vereue-evil ieeue, other countriee would likely ineiet on greater
influence over decieione in return for their active support. If U.S. leaderehip is
handicapped by a weak domeetic political or economic baae or if the United
Statee ie not willing or able to ehare decieionmaking rolee effectively with
international partnere, the foundatione of any new order will be in queetion.
A new world order cannot count on forming and suetaining coalitione
similar to that formed during the Peraian Gulf conflict.
Virtually all observere have commented on the unique combination of
circumtancee that allowed the United Statee to construct and hold together a
coalition that included eo many diveree countries with otherwise conflicting
intereata and prioritiee. Future aggreeeore could be larger, stronger and leee
easily isolated than Iraq. No future crieie may provide euch a clear caee of right
and wrong, or eo eaay a villain as Saddam Hussein. The ability to attract Syria
to the coalition, for example, had much more to do with Syria'e antagoniem
toward Hussein'e Iraq than ita common intereats with the United Statee. Even
the moderate Arab partnere of the United Statee have a far different traditional
outlook on Middle East peace ieeuee, particularly concerning Iarael'e future.
China'e important acquieecence in the Security Council owed much to its lack
of eerioue intereets in the Persian Gulf. The NATO alliee finiehed the crieie
relatively united in their approach, but the unity and cooperation hid continuing
difference8 over criteria governing the uee of force, the role of NATO outside
Europe, the requirements for Middle East peace, and other ieeuee.
Preeident Bueh'e concept ie too dependent on the cooperation of the
U.S.-Soviet confrontation haa been the principal defining characterietic of
the international ayatem for the laat four decades. Thie divieion tended to
polarize moet international iesuee and aleo prevented the United Nations
Security Council from working as it waa originally intended.
Aa already noted, one cle& attribute of Preeident Bueh'e approach ie its
reliance on a cooperative Soviet Union to make a new world order work.
Perhaps this wae demonetrated moet clearly as the United Statee moved toward
a decieion to broaden the attack on Iraq a t the end of February 1991, when the
Soviet leaderehip sought to negotiate with Iraq to produce a cease fire.
Although a t no point did Soviet efforts appear cloee to mtiefying U.S. terma for
a cease fire, and in epite of American concern about Soviet military attempts to
repreee independence movements in the Baltic Republica, Preeident Bueh went
out of hie way to thank and compliment Mikhail Gorbachev for hie attempts to
win Iraqi compliance with the United Natione reeolutionrr, even as he impoeed
an ultimatum on theae efforts. The U.S. apparently warned Gorbachev about
the negative consequences of Soviet military intervention in the Baltica, but the
Adminietration was careful not to mount a etrong public attack against
Gorbachev on the iaaue. Gorbachev, for hie part, continued to negotiate from
the position that Iraq must comply with all UN Reeolutione, aa the U.S. inaieted,
even though the Soviets were not able to extract euch an outcome from the
Iraqie. Both leaders appeared to be acting ae if US.-Soviet cooperation were
essential to their respective notions of what was required for an effective new
This aspect of President Bush'e approach attracta a variety of criticisms.
The moet obvioue problem ie that Gorbachev is under attack on a wide range of
issues by Soviet conservatives, including what they have seen ae excessive
cooperation with the United States during the Gulf crieis. If conservative forces
win the power etruggle in the Soviet Union, their much cooler, more competitive
attitude toward the United States could make the vision of a new world order
much more dificult or impossible to attain. Profeeeor Stanley Hoffmann has
argued that the behavior of governrnenta internationally ie directly linked to
their domestic conditions. A victory for the coneervativee in the Soviet power
struggle, according to Ho£bann, might not bring about a return to aggressive
Soviet behavior internationally, but could lead to policies designed to "prevent
further triumph of Western ideals and interests, especially a t the expense of
former Soviet ~lienta."'~
Some analyata argue that the problem is even more fundamental, and would
apply even if the Soviet conservatives are beaten back. According to a British
analyst, Christopher Coker, "The problem is that America's vision of the new
world order is not necessarily one that the Soviet Union shares."" Another
commentator argues that U.S.-Soviet cooperation in the Persian Gulf crisis was
an exception rather than the basie for a new rule. Near the end of the war,
analyst Peter Schweizer wrote that "the recent diplomatic gymnastics in the gulf
illustrate the vast difference between U.S. and Soviet objectives in the region,
objectives that perestroika and the war have done nothing to change.... There
is every reason to believe that the Soviet-Iraqi client relationship will be
business-as-usual after the gulf war.""
The President's approach ie too dependent on the United Nations and
insufficiently attentive to differences among U.N. members on values
and interesta and to the demande of balance of power politics.
This criticism is, of course, closely linked to the previous one. A main
reason for the importance of U.S.-Soviet ccroperation is the demonstrated fact
that the United Nations Security Council does not work to the full extent of ita
potential if all five permanent membere do not agree. The explicit hope of the
Bush and Gorbachev visions of a new world order has been that the United
Nations will assume a much more important role in the future. This hope for
a revitalized United Nations has been critiqued as unrealistic from a number of
67Stanley Hoffmann, "Avoiding New World Disorder," New York Times,
February 25,1991, pA19.
"Christopher Coker, "The Flaw in Bush's New World Order," European
Security Analyst, Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies, No. 11,
'peter Schweizer, "Moscow's Hidden Gulf Agenda," New York Times,
F e b r u q 18, 1991, p.23.
different perspectivee, but for somewhat different reasons. One political
commentator haa obeerved that the United Nations ie not exactly filled with
representative democraciee eharing the same etandards of human freedom and
righta advocated by the United Statee. According to William Pfaff,
...The vaet majority of the U.N.'e
membere are unrepresentative
governments, clam or intereat-bound oligarchiw or dictatorship with
abominable records of human-righta abuee. It meme ecarcely the
euitable agency for eetabliehing world democracy and reepect for
While Pfaff focueed on valuee, another obeerver concentrated on intereeta.
Former U.S. repreeentative a t the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick, obeerved
that "The biggeet eingle problem with the U.N. ie that it involve8 in every
decieion too many nations that don't have a etake in the outcome.... That'e a
prerequieite for irreeponsible decision-rnakingQd'
Former Secretmy of State Henry Kieeinger compliments Preeident Bush for
hie performance during the Persian Gulf crieie, but ie greatly troubled by the
idealiem expressed in the new world order concept. Kissinger and other
obeervera liken the approach to Woodrow Wileon'e attempt to impoee a
community of international intereeta on a balance of power ayatem with hie
League of Nations propod. Noting that Wileon'e attempt failed, ae did the
United Nationa vieion after World War II, Kissinger cautions Bueh to avoid the
eame fate by accepting the reality of conflicting interwta in the international
y t e m and the necessity for a balance of power etrategy. Kieeinger
acknowledgee that a balance of power etrategy eits uncomfortably with
Americana because of ita "apparent moral neutrality" and the fact that it "knows
few permanent enemiee and few permanent
And he notes that the
United Statee cannot play the role of "balancer" by itself, but instead requires
aseietance from othera and the ability to distinguish between eituationa in which
U.S. involvement is critical and those where it is not. In eum, Kieeinger argues
that the new world order is ahietorical in that it presumes that centuriee of
balance of power politics can be overcome by the new ayatem.
Further, other lees prominent but important problem could vex the goal
of etrengthening the role of the United Nations. The communiet bloc may have
collapsed in Europe, but it has not in Asia. The Government of China, aleo a
permanent Security Council member, did not block any of the resolutions
against Iraq. But there is no guarantee that Chinese cooperation could be won
in future decieionmaking if U.S. and Chinese - or Chinese and Soviet
intereeta clashed. There are aleo etructural problem. The Security Council was
William Pfaff, "The Illusion of Founding a New World Order," The Sun
IBaltimorel, January 28, 1991.
6%enry Kieeinger, "False Dreams of a New World Order," Washington Poet,
February 26,1991, p M 1 .
conceived at a time when Germany and Japan were defeated and severely
weakened powers. Today, it is dificult to imagine an effectively-functioning
new world order without the active participation of these two economic giants.
Even if both Germany and Japan are willing to take permanent (veto-holding)
seats on the Security Council, Third World countries might want one or more
of their membera added ae permanent membera of the Council. The task of
bringing the Council up to date, M, that it more accurately represents global
power realities, might in the end produce a Council where meaningful decisions
and actions would almost never result from its deliberations.
The United States did not use the United Nations eyetem during the
Gulf criais m intended by the U.N. Charter and, if the U.N. is to play
a meaningful part in a new world order, ite arrangements for collective
security efforts will have to be improved and ueed.
The United States relied heavily on the United Nations Security Council
for political legitimization of ite positions during the Persian Gulf crisis. But
the U.S. apparently rejected the option of using existing arrangements provided
by the U.N. Charter for coordinating a military response through the Military
Staff Committee which, according to Article 47, Section 3 of the Charter, is
"responsible under the Security Council for the strategic direction of any armed
forces placed at the disposal of the Security Council." Brian Urquhart, a former
Under Secretary General of the United Nations, has argued that "A credible
international security system, or 'new world order,' will have to respond with
appropriate collective action, through either regional or global organization, to
the vast range of disputes, threate to, or breaches of the peace, or even acts of
Urquhart maintains that "It is no longer acceptable that
international action is taken only when a situation threatens the interests of the
most powerful nations.*
Urquart goes on to recommend a variety of
improvements to allow the United Natione to keep watch over "destabilizing
developments" around the world and for the Security Council to act to settle
disputes, help keep the peace, and enforce U.N. decisions. Urquart concludes
Governments, if they want the United Nations to be respected and
taken seriously, will also have to respect its decisions and make
decisions that can if necessary be enforced. Such changes in attitude
would be the best practical test of a commitment to a "new world
wBrian Urquhart, "Learning from the Gulf," The New York Review, March
7, 1991, p.36.
Arrival a t a new world order is threatened by the prospect of
continuing political, ideological, economic,ethnic and religious conflicts
around the world, particularly in the Middle East.
President Bush has frequently acknowledged that winning the war against
Iraq will be a n incomplete victory unless greater peace and atability can be won
in the Middle East. This ia no small order, as U.S.Adminietrationa throughout
the last four decades have eought to encourage peace and atability in the region
with little auccees. And yet, if the new world order can wage war but not
promote peace, it will be of little lasting value. There is the hope, of course,
that the combined fmita of the end of the Cold War and of the Peraian Gulf War
will include sufficient pressure on Middle Eastern protagonists to induce a peace
process leading toward guarantees for Israel's security, a homeland for the
Palestinia., and a regional security syatem to promote an enduring peace. But
the record of the region suggests that if such an outcome ia a prerequisite to the
advent of a new world order, the order's chance of success may be no better than
those of the League of Nations.
IMPLICATIONS FOR U.S. POLICY
COUNTERPOINTS TO THE CRITICS
The Bush Administration'e concept of a new world order appear0 to have
become the President'e over arching foreign policy vision for the future. This
vision has developed incrementally going through varioue etagee eince January
1989: first, rejecting the need for a new vision; second, aeeerting a vision of a
new Europe "whole and h e " ; third, acknowledging that a new Europe might
also imply a new world; and currently, proclaiming the goal of a new world
order. It ia clear that the Adminietration recognizes that a new order does not
yet exist, even if the changes in Europe and elsewhere have undone the old
world order. It ie reasonable to aasume that the concept ie also a "work in
progress" that will be incrementally elaborated, tested and revised.
The President's vision has many elements in common with that expressed
by Mikhail Gorbachev in his December 1988 epeech to the United Nations
General Assembly, including the "new world order" rhetoric, the goal of a
peaceful order, the importance of U.S.-Soviet cooperation, the acknowledgment
of democrclcy's powerful force, and the enhanced potential for the United
Nations. The Bush Administration originally dismissed the Gorbachev vision
and then developed an American counterpart. It ie also ironic that Gorbachev
is no longer in a position to be a credible advocate of his vision, given the
magnitude of the Soviet Union's domestic political and economic problems. But
the changes in Gorbachev's policies under the banner of the new world order
helped open the door through which George Bush walked toward such a vision.
And the success of President Bush's approach depends on whether or not a
similar vision survives in the Soviet leadership.
The criticisms of the approach noted above all have some salience. But
there are other sides to virtually every critique.
Yes, military force, or a t least the potential to employ military force,
is an important component of an international system designed to
maintain order, just as even highly developed civilizations still require
police to enforce laws. But that does not mean that the new order will
have to rely on the use of force on a regular basis. George Bush may
be right in hoping that the Persian Gulf War and the success in
holding the coalition together may have a deterrent effect creating a
window of political opportunity to build toward a new order.
The United States surely cannot build a new world order by itself or
according to a uniquely American plan. But the United States does
have far greater leadership potential a t this point in history than any
other nation, and a t the end of two ware (the Cold War and the
Persian Gulf War) there may be opportunities for diplomacy that are
unique. Western Europe has not yet achieved sufficient political
cohesion to lead, although our West European allies have much to
contribute to international consensue building and problem eolving.
The Soviet Union cannot lead, but ita acquieecence will be eseential.
Reliance on the cooperation of the Soviet Union may be a eevere
weakness of the Preaident'e approach to a new world order, but a more
benign, cooperative and reforming Soviet Union helped create the
circumetancee that even make it possible to contemplate a new order.
Uncertainty about the Soviet Union'e future eimply requiree the
United Statee to prepare for the contingency in which the Soviet
Union'e internal and external policiee make it an ineffective or
unhelpful partner. Until that point has been reached, Soviet
cooperation can be extremely valuable. In Europe, the United States
hae tried to eteer a c o u m between constructing a more cooperative
European security eystem in the framework of the Conference on
Security and Cooperation in Europe and preeerving a vital Weetern
military alliance in NATO. It may be neceseary to follow a eimilar
"parallel paths" hedging strategy toward the new world order to allow
for the potential vicissitudes of Soviet de~elopmenta.~
The United Nations clearly has limita and deficiencies, and it does not
have a life of ita own in the international ayatem. Rather, it is the
focal point where the broadest international consensue can be
fashioned ant tested and, if achieved, translated into action. But it is
not the only venue for action and there ie no fatal inconsietency
between trying to make the United Nations more effective and paying
attention to the impact of power relationships in the international
syetem. Further, the fact that the concept of a new world order draws
on a certain moral tradition in U.S. foreign policy ehould be a
strength, not a weakness, as long as policymakers understand and
factor power relationships into their calculations.
Policymakers may also wieh to take into account the fact that to the
extent that the United States commita itaelf to international
cooperation in managing a new world order, it also limita the scope of
ita own potential for unilateral action. From some perspectivee this
may be an acceptable price to pay for broader eharing of reeponsibility
for an international eystem that facilitate8 peaceful change and
discourages resort to the uee of force except in self defense.
It may not be possible to hold the Persian Gulf coalition completely
intact, or to form as effective coalitions in the future, but the
cooperation achieved during the crisis provides a etarting point for
overcoming old differences in the Near E a t region.
=For discussion of such an approach toward Europe's future, see Stanley R.
Sloan, "The United States and a New Europe: Strategy for the Future," CRS
Report 90-245, May 14, 1990.
The Middle Ehst in the post-war period will be a most important and
&=cult test for most aspecta of a potential new order. But wen if, as
seem likely, efforta at settlement do not resolve all problem in the
region, the pmpecte for a new order are not entirely bleak. The
question will be whether Middle Eastern politice will damage or
destroy key elementa of a potential new order, such ae U.S. intent to
play a leading role it the world, the Soviet Union's willingnees to
cooperate, and the perception of greater potential for the United
THE ROLE OF THE CONGRESS IN A NEW WORLD ORDER
The role of the Congress to date in the new world order hae largely been
that of an interested onlooker. This is largely a product of continuing
uncertainty about exactly what the Administration meam by the concept and
how it intenda to translate it into U.S. policy initiatives and commitments. If
the Administration continues to pursue the goal, the Congress will become
critically and directly involved in its evolution, making decisions about the
policies, priorities, and fun& required to underwrite the approach.
An early issue will be whether the United Statee can still plan on a process
of reductions in defense efforta over the next several yeam if it anticipates U.S.
forces playing a major role in securing a new world order. In particular, what
military forces will remain deployed in the Persian Gulf region as part of the
U.S. commitment to post-war military stability in the region? A further
question is that of what types of forces should receive priority funding in such
a case. Also, should the anticipated reduction in the U.S. militmy presence
overseas, particularly in Europe and in h i a , continue, or should U.S. overseas
deployments be reconsidered in light of new world order roles?
The Congress undoubtedly will also want to know how the Administration
hopes to share the burdens of sustaining a new world order? The Persian Gulf
War aroused strong burdensharing sentiments in the Congress. On the poeitive
side of the ledger, the crisis saw the most intensive, extensive and successful
cooperation with our European allies in dealing with a non-European security
problem in the past four decades. Members of Congress will likely want to know
how this experience can be tramlated into a reliable system of cooperation for
the future, to ensure that the United Statee is not left alone defending the new
order. One big question is whether the United States should insist that two of
our economically strongest allies, Germany and Japan, aesume more prominent
militmy roles in defense of a new order, or if they should specialize in nonmilitary areas, such as promoting economic development in the emerging
democracies in Europe and in the Third World. Presuming that the United
States does not want to become the provider of mercenary forces for a new
world order, other partners will be required to take on specific burdens and
responsibilities other than bankrolling U.S. operations.
The Congress will also have to decide how much to invest in the nonmilitary requirements of a new world order. U.S. expenditure8 on foreign aid
have traditionally been a target of much criticism, particularly given domestic
financial requirements. But U.S. leadership in a new world order may require
successful foreign assistance programs aa well aa credible military capabilities.
Ifthis aapect of the new order is left entirely to other developed countries, the
United States could find itself on the ehort end of acceee to developing foreign
markets. U.S. advocacy of a cooperative approach to global order may also
require new consideration of multilateral approaches to foreign mistance ae
part of a new world order policy.
The Congress will also have to decide whether or not to eupport actively
the Adminiatration'e lead in seeking to etrengthen the United Nations. Such a
policy will certainly require that the United Statee at least pay its m e a m and
it its current dues in a timely faahion, if not increase its eupport.
In addition, the Congresa will likely continue to exercise overnight regarding
the wide range of foreign policy implications of a new world order concept, most
particularly concerning U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. In epite of its
grave internal problems, the Soviet Union etill is perhaps the eingle most
important country for the United Statee in the world. The Soviet Union harr
strategic nuclear forces capable of destroying the United States, enough nonnuclear military force to be a destabilizing influence in Europe and elsewhere,
and a sufficiently clouded political future to be a cause of concern for many
yeara to come. Continuing uncertainty about the future of the Soviet Union
presumably will require that the Administration, while eeeking cooperation with
the Soviet leadership, keep open policy options to deal with contingencies that
make Moscow an undependable ally in pursuing a new world order.
None of these issues has been sharply posed for the Congress early in 1991,
but just aa the Congress haa played a critical part in determining U.S. policy
following both the first and second world wars, eo it will likely participate
actively in shaping the U.S. role in the post-Cold War and Persian Gulf War