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The new world order

The U.S. says it will do more for its allies, writes Paul Wells, but it wants more, too


 

The new world order

For all the assorted domestic and foreign woes weighing down on it, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is still in the relatively sunlit early days when it can afford to plan a few steps ahead. So when Vice-President Joe Biden showed up at the Munich Security Conference with a sunny and soothing speech, his largely European audience should have known other emissaries with a darker message wouldn’t be far behind.

By itself Biden’s was an extraordinary speech, and when he delivered it on Saturday morning to the world’s foreign policy elite in a packed ballroom at the Bayerischer Hof hotel, it was obvious why Barack Obama had chosen him for the No. 2 slot. Biden enhances the credibility of his boss’s foreign policy message simply by being the guy who delivers it. A veteran U.S. senator, he knows the Munich crowd well. He has attended the annual weekend getaway in the Bavarian capital many times. He knows it is a more focused, less ostentatious and arguably more important gathering than the glittering World Economic Forum in Davos. A perfect place for the Obama team to road-test its message to the world.

Biden entered to a standing ovation, paused to engulf Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy representative, in a bear hug, and chatted for long minutes with Henry Kissinger. Then he headed to the podium to deliver a basic message: Obama wants to make America a more deserving partner for its traditional allies.

“America will not torture,” he said. “We will uphold the rights of those we bring to justice. And we will close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay.” He opened his kit bag of Helping Words, offering to “engage,” to “listen” and to “consult.” He promised talks with the bellicose regime in Iran, increases to foreign aid and a global environmental strategy. Catnip for European listeners who had waited long years to see the back of George W. Bush.

Biden barely hinted at the quid pro quo that everyone knew was coming. “America will do more—that’s the good news. The bad news is that America will ask more from our partners as well.”

To find out what “more” entailed, the Munich crowd had to wait only a day. The bill was delivered by David Petraeus, the four-star general in charge of the U.S. Central Command and therefore of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Richard Holbrooke, the veteran diplomat who serves as Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“I would be remiss if I did not ask individual countries to examine very closely what forces and other contributions they can provide,” said Petraeus. And if anyone was unsure what might help, Petraeus had brought along a wish list, like a blushing bride who had registered at the Counterinsurgency Boutique. “More intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms,” he said. “More military police, engineers and logistics elements. Additional special-operations forces and civil-affairs units. More lift and attack helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Additional air medevac assets, increases in information operations capabilities, and so on.”

How could this much new effort be needed in a war that is already in its eighth year? It fell to Holbrooke to deliver the grim explanation: much of the work of the first seven years was wasted and counterproductive. “Let’s not kid ourselves,” he said in the conference’s closing minutes. “The task ahead of us is far, far more difficult than anything that has been said this morning. I have never, in my experience in the U.S. government that started in Vietnam, ever seen anything as difficult as the situation that confronts the countries involved in Afghanistan and Pakistan at this point.”

The “story of Afghanistan,” Holbrooke said, is full of pledges to do more and coordinate better that lead nowhere. In the U.S. government’s foreign-assistance program, “I have never seen anything remotely resembling the mess we have inherited.” He concluded: “In my view it’s going to be much tougher than Iraq.”

The surprise is that many seemed not only prepared for more demands from the U.S. but, in some cases, eager to comply. John Hutton, the glowering British defence minister, said his country would be reinforcing its Afghanistan contingent. He prodded the crowd, which included 40 heads of government, foreign and defence ministers, to do the same: “It is better to volunteer than to be asked—to be absolutely blunt, combat roles, right now, are the premium issue. We kid ourselves if we imagine other contributions, right now, are of the same value. They’re not.”

Talk is cheap at Munich. Indeed, talk is coin of the realm at the security conference, which for 45 years has served as an informal, non-governmental forum for the North Atlantic policy elite to compare notes and brainstorm. But suddenly a lot of countries seemed to be discovering new war-fighting resources where before there had been only embarrassed silence. The Bulgarians said they’d be in for an increased commitment. Radek Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister, urged everyone to make sure they didn’t attach bureaucratic strings to their contributions: “He who gives without caveats gives twice.”

The German hosts were more reticent, hinting strongly that Germany will increase only its civilian effort. But French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who cannot resist an urge to showboat, made sure the crowd knew he’d seen Biden’s speech before delivery and then went on to suggest an increased effort won’t be long coming—from Germany as well as France.

The 60th-anniversary summit of NATO heads of government will be held this April in the neighbouring French and German border towns of Strasbourg and Kehl. “It is, no doubt, time to review NATO’s strategy—and for France and Germany to draw a certain number of consequences,” Sarkozy said. “Believe me that between now and April we will try to measure up to the great ambition of this family, which is ours.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was onstage with Sarkozy while he spoke. If what he said surprised or appalled her it would not be the first time, but she gave no sign of it.

So the Obama camp’s brand of earnest candour was a hit with America’s allies in Munich. If the new President’s biggest headache was worrying about the reviews his surrogates would get for their speeches, his problems would be solved. Reality checks arrived via the newspaper headlines and a few of the conference’s most prominent, and controversial, speakers.

On the eve of the conference, Pakistan released A.Q. Khan, a nuclear scientist who stands accused of spreading his weapons know-how to Iran, North Korea and Libya, from house arrest. Kyrgyzstan’s president announced in Moscow that he was ordering the United States to close an air base it uses in his country for operations in Afghanistan. Iran launched a rickety little satellite in orbit, demonstrating its ability to lob nastier payloads at terrestrial targets. The U.S. logged its worst monthly job loss in 16 years, and a few Munich conference veterans, including senators John Kerry and John McCain, had to stay home in Washington this year to bicker over Obama’s economic stimulus package.

The storm clouds outside were matched by the stubborn refusal of Russian and Iranian visitors to join the easy agreements of their North Atlantic counterparts. Biden devoted much of his speech to seeking a new relationship with Russia. There has been a “dangerous drift in relations between Russia and members of our alliance,” Biden said, thanks largely to last year’s shooting war between Russia and Georgia, and to Russia’s willingness to cut off gas and oil exports to its European neighbours when their behaviour displeases.

Biden made a token effort to sound tough. “The United States will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states,” he said. “We will not—will not—recognize a country having a sphere of influence.” But by and large he agreed to disagree with Russia on Georgia—essentially a concession to Moscow—in return for help with Afghanistan.

Sergei Ivanov, the wily Russian deputy prime minister, was pleased at the attention but not eager to make nice too quickly. “I remember early 2000 when we were accused of all the sins in Chechnya,” said Ivanov, who was attending his ninth Munich conference. “This time I did not hear any substantial criticism of Russia.” A new era of co-operation, then? Not so fast. Biden had offered to “press the reset button” with regard to Russia-U.S. relations. Ivanov was unpersuaded. “It is a figure of speech. There is no button that you press to reset.”

Where the Russian was cagey, the Iranian delegate, parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, was downright belligerent. He showed up wearing the universal emblem of gentle politicians, a sweater vest, but promptly tore into generations of U.S. administrations. “Everybody is talking about the goodwill of the U.S.,” he said. “But everybody knows in here that the U.S. is the only one who has used nuclear weapons in the world,” a reference to the atom bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki nearly 64 years ago.

Why were the Americans so obsessed with the prospect of Iranian nukes, Larijani wondered. “The Americans have had no problem with Israel’s nuclear program. Or India. Or Pakistan.” He lamented the American role in the 1953 Iranian coup that replaced an elected government with a pro-Western dictator, U.S. support for Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran, and its support for Israel against Hezbollah in “the shameful 22-day war. Now, with a change of tone and a few media postures, do you honestly expect these pains to go away?”

From merely resentful, Larijani’s remarks veered into the surreal. “I’m not a historian,” he said, “but when it comes to the Holocaust, people can have different views.” That drew an angry rebuttal from French politician Pierre Lellouche, who said denying the Holocaust is a crime in France, as it is in Germany. Larijani seemed surprised. “We don’t have the same sensitivities in Iran.”

After that kind of display it took a mighty effort of will to see any hopeful prospects for relations with Iran. Biden did his best. “We are willing to talk,” he said. “We are willing to talk to Iran, and to offer a very clear choice: continue down your current course and there will be pressure and isolation; abandon your illicit nuclear program and support for terrorism and there will be meaningful incentives.”

This openness drew at least one high-powered endorsement, from Kissinger, the Nixon-era foreign policy guru who seemed to be everywhere at this conference. Differences over Iran were a key point of disagreement during last year’s presidential campaign between Obama and John McCain. Kissinger was a McCain supporter. Which meant, apparently, that he had to spend a lot of time biting his tongue. “I’ve been a friend of John McCain all my life,” he said, before adding, “I have long advocated negotiations with Iran on a broad front.”

Even Larijani interrupted his harangue long enough to offer grudging praise for Obama’s first steps. He noted that the President’s Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, had visited the region with a stated desire “to listen, not to dictate.” “This is a positive signal,” Larijani allowed.

You take what you can get. “If I only would have had dialogue in my lifetime with easy partners, I wouldn’t, during the Cold War, have many contacts with the East,” said Karsten Voigt, a veteran politician who is in charge of relations with North America in the German Foreign Ministry. “And therefore, to talk with difficult partners—and I have, on a regular basis, had contact with the Iranians and they are difficult—it’s necessary.”

If relations with Iran don’t get much better, the country may yet be handy in pushing Russia and the U.S. together—because both countries are starting to agree that a missile defence against attacks from the general neighbourhood of Iran may yet come in handy.

Until the Georgia war, the greatest source of irritation between the Bush administration and Russia was Bush’s plan to install missile-defence batteries in Poland and the Czech Republic. Vladimir Putin saw the bases as a threat against Russian security and responded with plans to install short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, directly endangering Poland’s population.

Biden told the Munich audience the Obama administration will keep working on missile defence—but “in consultation with our NATO allies and Russia.” Ivanov said he’d rather see the planned bases in Poland and the Czech Republic scrapped outright, but privately Russian officials welcomed the Americans’ openness to co-operation.

And where was Canada in all this? Not absent, for the first time in a while. Defence Minister Peter MacKay showed up in Munich, making him the first Canadian cabinet minister to attend since the Conservatives were elected in 2006. (Liberal foreign ministers John Manley and Bill Graham both used to attend in their time.)

MacKay is said to be campaigning for the job of secretary-general of NATO, which Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is slated to vacate later this year. Such campaigning, if it takes place, is done sotto voce; European sources interviewed by Maclean’s could not come up with any reliable list of candidates. One senior NATO source said MacKay is highly regarded in the organization for his blunt talk, but as a Canadian with a short CV he has a long way to go in convincing people he can navigate the Byzantine relationship between NATO and the European Union.

Appearing on the same panel as Holbrooke and Petraeus, MacKay pitched Canada as a determined ally that is already implementing the sort of well-coordinated, “whole of government” approach to military and civilian intervention in Afghanistan that the Americans hope to lead.

“We have more to do,” MacKay said, quoting Robert Frost: “Miles to go before we sleep.” He added, “I don’t think we can ever abandon the effort, to have more countries, to have more effort on the ground, until we tip the balance.” And to make sure nobody had any question of his steadfastness, he concluded, “As a country that believes very strongly in this multilateral process, Canada remains very committed.”

What he did not mention, not once, is that the commitment runs until 2011 and that Stephen Harper insists Canada’s military deployment in Afghanistan will substantially end then.

Is that 2011 commitment still firm? MacKay declined a request for an interview. James Appathurai, the NATO spokesman based in Brussels, said he has been told the Obama administration is “looking forward” to the President’s Feb. 19 trip to Ottawa. “They have a number of issues on their agenda. They will share them, of course, with the Canadians; of course it’s not for me to say what they are. But let’s just say they have the trip to Canada firmly in their minds.”


 

The new world order

  1. What a great article.

    It does seem to hinge on Pakistan, first politically and then, if all goes well on that front, militarily. I mean, at the moment Pakistan is on both sides, its right hand (ISI) doesn’t care what its left hand (army) is doing or head (government) is thinking — as the Bombay bombings are fresh proof. Anything we could do to help Pakistan’s government regain control of its own local policy would be great, but what exactly can we do? Ceasing to grab short-term advantages via drone bombings might be one step: if it breaks down as one airstrike today vs. one Pakistani division in the field tomorrow, it’s a crazy trade-off. I wonder if Petraeus has full control of US strategy in this: bombing Pakistan doesn’t sound like his style.

    Re: Petraeus, I don’t quite grasp why he thinks Afghanistan is so much harder a problem than Iraq was. Admittedly the Tribal Areas are a heck of a lot bigger, in population and size, than Al-Anbar, but the Surge was a success mainly because the US bought off the insurgents’ tribal allies. Wouldn’t the same thing work in the Tribal Areas? Sure, the Pashtuns are rather more addicted to war than the Iraqi tribes, but everybody likes money; and maybe they could be convinced to fight on our side. My uninformed guess is that they must be as tired of the Taliban as the Iraqi tribes were of the 1920 Revolution Brigade and are still supporting them only because they are deeply, and perhaps rightly, suspicious of foreigners. If they were “empowered,” both short-term and long-term, and tribal authority and tribal social structure vindicated and guaranteed by us, we might win them over. One random idea, in case Richard Holbrooke is reading this: recruit a platoon of Western experts in Pushtun epic poetry, for propaganda and diplomacy — the tribes operate in about the same world as Achilles and Hector and it would be useful, as well as courteous, to speak to them in Homeric terms.

    • Jack, my admittedly amateur feel for this is that the surge wont work with the Pashtuns. There isn’t, i assume, the underlayer of western influences that were evidently there in Anbar. The paradox as i see it is that nothing lasting or meaningful can be achieved without tribal authority and social structure being engaged. But is precisely this structure that is most opposd to the wholesale adoption of western ideals and liberal norms. I assume they cannot be defeated – not at any price we are willing to pay – so how to co-opt hem without betraying our stated policy goals, ie: educating girls etc.
      The west has always assumed that there is a moderate middle in Pashtun culture, i’m not so sure. In any event suggestions like yrs, using tradition poetry are much to be preferred to our usual defaults: arming and funding an opposing faction that more often then not proves to be a stop-gap, and an immoral and self-defeating one at that.

      • Good point, kc. Yes, we’d have to drop our “educating girls” line. IMHO there are lots of good causes around the world as worthy as making Afghan women literate (not that that isn’t a worthy cause); the only thing that can justify the billions we’ve poured and will still pour into Afghanistan is counter-terrorism. I mean, that’s why were there, right? And, as you rightly point out, we can never win over the tribes if we go in there with the stated goal of imposing liberal values on literally the most conservative place on earth. And if we don’t eventually win over the tribes, even by virtue of military conquest (which seems like a tall order), how can we make the Tribal Areas & thus the whole region safe in the long term? Killing all the Pashtuns, or dispersing them Stalin-style? We obviously wouldn’t want to do that. The only alternative seems to me to meet them half-way on values: we’ll accept your medievalism if you don’t try and impose it on the rest of the Muslim world.

        • You see my pt right away. The west may have to make an awful trade-off. You keep yr lunacy under lock and key and local, and we’ll pay lip service to liberal democracy in Afganistan. Was it every thus? Faustian bargains and the lesser of evils. Politics often seems to me to be about the art of the necessary as much as about the possible.

          • Don’t think that anybody will be able to bargain with the Taliban – they will never keep to their side of it, only regroup to fight another day. They are fighting to take over, not just to take control of their own lands. They want the big prize. They are pretty close at the moment in Afghanistan and are making progress in Pakistan. Zardari is right about one thing – the Taliban must be wiped out. I don’t think he’s the man for the job, however.

          • Sorry, but i haven’t seen any persuasive evidence that the Taliban are anything other than a bunch of regional thugs, nasty granted, bent on global domination, hardly.

          • Hey, we’re managing it in Alberta. (My university had a special office to help female coop students deal with sexism in the Calgary big oil community . . .) Why not in Afghanistan?

            Organisations like the Taliban (or the IRA, or the CPC . . ;) which want to violently transform society will never get the hearts of more than a certain percentage of the population. The trick is to find a way to alienate their supporters from the general population. Trying to counter a group bent on radical transformation with your own radical transformation sounds a little silly. The IRA was beaten with the advent of cell phones, which made it safe for citizens to report them to authority, and the promise of economic prosperity. I think trying to find out what the locals want and selling yourself as a better alternative might work better. If the Taliban looks like the better alternative to us, that must mean we don’t look very good.

          • “Killing all the Pashtuns, or dispersing them Stalin-style? We obviously wouldn’t want to do that.”

            We wouldn’t. I wonder when the day is coming when the western powers and Russia will resort to that though. 2040? The Pashtuns are as close to a no-solution people as there are in the world. At some point our descendants that don’t share our squeamishness, humanity and living memory of WWII veterans/ the Holocaust may decide Putin’s Chechnya approach had its merits.

            In the absence of that, awful tradeoffs seem inevitable. Unless Shenping brings in the University of Calgary anti-sexism police.

  2. Excellent article, Paul. From the sound of it, placing Canada as a benign (but not completely insignificant) afterthought in the discussion seems about right.

    Much of your piece was on Iran, and I wonder what, if anything of consequence, Canada has to do or say here? All I can come up with is we snuck a few American diplomats out during the hostage crisis and we were ineffectual wimps letting them kill one of our citizens for taking pictures. Does Canada even have a policy towards Iran?

    As to the USA wanting more from all allies, and Canada’s current intention to bug out in ’11. I suspect the tone will soon change to “unless Parliament directs otherwise” sneaking into the national conversation. Then watch for Parliament to direct otherwise, if our forces can at all take the stand-down being whisked away like that. I suspect the nationwide swooning up here for President Hope A. Change will soon morph the attitude from “Stop killing innocents for Bush’s other stupid war” to “Let’s hope he notices us. Anything! We’ll do anything! 100,000 more soldiers? To hell with national-service Katimavik, it’s time for a draft!” Well, ok, maybe not that far.

    I am more than a little dismayed that some commenters (above) are prepared to negotiate away the emancipation of an oppressed class of humans. There is a difference, friends, between “conservative” and “oppressive.” Can we at least agree not to tolerate medieval thinking, and maybe move things along to, say, late 19th century? Then we can keep gently nudging from there, ok?

    • Interesting forecast on our deployment, MYL. I bet you’re right.

      Re: negotiating away human rights, I’m not keen on it, but what’s the alternative? What peace settlement will involve the Pushtuns agreeing to give up on oppressive patriarchy? How would it be enforceable, even if it were won? Seems to me the best way to modernise the Tribal Areas is to achieve peace and let cell phones, satellite TV, and hip hop do their thing.

      • It wasn’t that along ago that women in Kabul were free to be educated, free to chose whether or not to where a Hijab, were doctors, were professionals. The world can change very fast – in both directions. Afghanistan was evolving before the Taliban….it will again, and we should continue to push for it.

        • I’m not talking about “Afghanistan,” I’m talking about the mountains where the Pushtun tribes live.

    • I’m with J@ck here. Going in and promising to enlighten someone, ie “be like us or else”, smacks of, well, colonialism. We’re right, you’re wrong, end of story. Misquoting Churchill, it’s worse than wrong — it’s stupid. Let’s look at the track record of this approach. Hmmm . . . Africa, post-slavery American race relations, Native American religious schools . . . I could go on, but why?

      This kind of change has to be fought for by the people who will benefit from it, at a grassroots level. It needs to develop its own heroes & legends, its own Rosa Parks, its own Martin Luther King Jr., etc.

  3. Stephen Harper should have appointed John Manley to the Senate (as a Liberal Senator, naturally) , and then he should have made Manley Minister of Foreign Affairs. It would have been a nice bipartisan gesture, and it would ensure that Canada is represented by a more credible figure on the world stage.

    I realize one would need to be living in the world of fairy tales and unicorns to believe that this scenario is even remotely plausible, but it’s still a nice dream.

  4. What kind of koolaid drinker wrote this? There’s no new world order! What are you guys talking about? Everything is just fine, Canadian military men are treated just like all others as per Mr Kissenger “Militarymen are dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy!”. Go back to sleep…..PLEASE!

  5. google New World Order. You see a conspiracy theory. Click news and you get hundreds of articles. Orwell didn’t have a clue just how brainwashed idiot Canadians can be.

  6. Good article.

    I become more and more convinced that, sooner or later, there is going to be war with Iran. The later this takes place, the more likely it is to be a nuclear war. There isn’t much scope for a strike at a specific target like Osirak. No matter what happens, it will be hard to contain. Partnership with the Russians would be great, but the price will be high – for us, for Russians and most of all for all those states on Russia’s borders which used to be part of the Soviet empire. What a nightmare.

    Afghanistan and Pakistan are a sideshow in comparison, albeit a very important one. Petraeus may think it’s going to be hard work, but he has shown his abilities and has valuable experience. You may disagree with Bush’s Iraq policy amongst many others, but one thing you can say about him is that he never gave up on Iraq – he kept on trying until something worked. I just wonder if Obama has the same determination. Somehow I don’t think so.

    • I disagree, Mulletaur. I think that a nuclear war with Iran is extremely unlikely, given that their ability to effectively deploy their two 1950’s technology nuclear warheads is rather questionable.

      • Mmm, don’t know about that. They could have the technical ability to put only Pop Tarts as the payload on the missile they used to launch the satellite, everybody would still have to take them seriously. I guess that’s what they wanted to achieve from the launch. Pure terrorism.

        • Apart from whether there will be or need be a war, do you think we could pull it off? How much can air supremacy really achieve? And in terms of ground forces, the West is a) already stretched, b) reluctant to take casualties; and Iran itself is three times larger than Iraq, about 10 times more defensible, and never had its conventional forces knocked out as Saddam’s were in the Gulf War. I mean, sure, we could blow up all the tanks, but could we really secure a dozen nuclear development sites? Meanwhile, what happens to Iraq and Afghanistan? I mean, I hate to be just a pure pessimist but it seems to me the days of the West being able to clobber a third-rate power are drawing to a close.

          • I don’t think anybody could pull it off, that’s the thing – not the Israelis and certainly not the Western powers. And the terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and others that Iran has been funding and supporting would feel completely unconstrained once an attack has taken place. I think the invasion of Iraq by the United States has directly contributed to this situation where Iran feels so threatened it has no choice but to acquire nuclear weapons and delivery systems. I am not talking about the leadership in Iran so much as public opinion.

            Obama will pull the U.S. out of Iraq in time and some sort of working equilibrium will set in there, at least for a while. Barring any other foreign policy problems which distract attention from Af-Pak, Obama will focus U.S. efforts there initially. But something else more important is likely to come along – Biden was right about this, somebody is going to challenge the United States and Obama up front in his mandate. And I don’t think Obama is going to get much help from the Europeans or even Canada with Af-Pak, but let’s see what happens after Obama comes up here for his tea break with Harper.

  7. Wow these wacko liberals are some scary bad dudes.

    • I think SDA is looking for you. Apparently their moron quotient is getting a bit low.

      • *Apparently their moron quotient is getting a bit low.*
        as you would know quite well, Kc sunshine. read any German philosophers yet?

        • Dumb Roberts ever the oh so original wit.

    • Attack of the clones . . . or maybe “Bring on the Empty Horses” would be a better reference.

  8. i know one thing! one thing must be done for sure, is not allow israel hit the nuclear targets in iran! these would start the third world war! no quastion about it! america has a big say in these, israel says it would not tolorate nuclear iran, and would hit the sites with or without ok from the world comunity! well they better think twice, we all will pay the price! and for those of you who thinks that iran cant retaliate, i wanna say wake up and smell the coffe! plus iran has russia and china on its side, whom have invested heavily into the country! world war peoplke!

  9. Infowars.com/Prisonplanet.tv/ObamaDeception.net. Google Loose Change, and Endgame. WAKE UP PEOPLE. You sound like intellectiuals, now act like it. Do you’re research. DOWN WITH THE NWO!

  10. “…..chatted for long minutes with Henry Kissinger” tells you all you need to know. And you wonder why the Iranian diplomat might be a less than convinced at the sincerity of Biden’s speech. A lot of journalists and news organizations seem to be using the term “New World Order” as if its a 21st century version of Glasnost for the world. Anyone seen “War, Inc.” yet? We’re only a couple of years away.

  11. I don’t think it’s possible to use the term “New World Order” for current events without a certain irony, given that it’s been “New” for about 90 years or so (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_world_order, http://www.theforbiddenknowledge.com/hardtruth/new_world_order_hgwells.htm). It was supposed to refer to a system of international cooperation under the League of Nations, which, well, led to WWII & Hitler’s “New Order” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Order_(political_system). Now it’s the name for a paleoconservative conspiracy theory where progressives & liberals want to take over the world and remake it in their image.

    • Hmm . . . links messed up. I don’t think Hitler was responsible for 80’s Europop. I don’t think the editor will parse that link properly, but here’s the first one.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_world_order.

  12. Boy you folks must feel dumb now that Obama’s own committee has found Gitmo to violate neither international law nor the Geneva Conventions. I’ll be interested to see if he really does shut it down and move the prisoners to Bagram for more of the same, or if he just forgets about that promise.

  13. Well if the last seven odd years were wasted, I’d say its pretty clear that on the more harm than good scale, we’ve decidedly tipped towards the former.

    Time to come home. If they’re still able to fly airplanes into buildings, we’ll figure out the appropriate response when it happens.

  14. It is interesting that too many people are bent upon educating women in Afghanistan and liberalizing pashtuns for a wrong reason. If there was no 9/11 and no Bin Laden ,I don’t think any of those champions of liberal thought who are bent upon crushing medieval thinking would even be talking about If half the population of Afghanistan had vanished by famine they would not even spend a fraction of the money they have spent so far . the unfortunate but true message is that violence does something after all. Too much talk about Iran in the article . I guess that a law that does not allow any one to believe that holocaust did not happen is just as medieval as taliban, In US ,Canada and Europe they run after any one with a hammer who dare criticize Israel on their war crimes. Is it any different from Taliban running after any one who disagrees with them? the sad fact is that America is super power because it scared the world into submission just because they dare use a deadly weapon that even the evil Russians did not dare. You can make fun of of Iranian representative but can not deny the truth . Now they teach human rights to the entire world. There is a reason why nations around the world are tempted to have nukes . Because we have failed to respect those who do no have power ,we have allowed those to perish who did not have power, and the attempts to stop Iran from acquiring weapons are as futile as the efforts of Egyptian emperor to kill Moses. It is funny how Americans threaten Iran to obliterate them the Iranians respond , Ok we are ready to fight come on ! Then Americans come back saying we will give you second third and fourth chance that Iranians are not even asking for
    People are trying too hard to fix taliban and that i think is problem, leave them alone and they will figure out themselves that they are primitive and insignificant. all the major armies of the world Trying to crush them gives them real power.

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