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What New World Order?

Courtesy Reuters

The 1991 Persian Gulf War was, according to President Bush, about "more than one small country; it is a big idea; a new world order," with "new ways of working with other nations . . . peaceful settlement of disputes, solidarity against aggression, reduced and controlled arsenals and just treatment of all peoples." Not long after the war, however, the flow of White House words about a new world order slowed to a trickle.

Like Woodrow Wilson’s fourteen points or Franklin Roosevelt’s four freedoms, George Bush’s grand rhetoric expressed the larger goals important for public support when a liberal democratic state goes to war. But after the war, when reality intruded, grand schemes turned into a liability. People were led to compare the war’s imperfect outcome with an impossible ideal. The proper standard for judgment should have been what the world would look like if Saddam Hussein had been left

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