President Obama's New Approach to a New World Order?

Sunday, 19 April 2009 10:34 By Dr Wilmer J Leon III and PhD, t r u t h o u t | Perspective | name.

President Obama
President Obama speaking at the G20 summit in London earlier this month. (Photo: Getty Images)

    On September 11, 1990, President George H.W. Bush (Bush 41) addressed a joint session of Congress with a speech entitled "Toward a New World Order." In this speech he articulated the United States' objectives for post-Cold War global governance in cooperation with post-Soviet states:

Until now, the world we've known has been a world divided - a world of barbed wire and concrete block, conflict and Cold War. 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, is poised to fulfill the historic vision of its founders. A world in which freedom and respect for human rights find a home among all nations.

    In the 20th and early 21st centuries, a number of world leaders, such as Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, Mikhail Gorbachev, Henry Kissinger and Gordon Brown, have used the term "new world order" to refer to a new period of history evidencing a dramatic change in world political thought and the balance of power. When President Bush 41 used the term, his phrasing sent shock waves through the Christian and secular hard-right world, since for decades the phrase has been used to represent a collectivist One World Government.

    Some believe there exists a powerful and secretive group of globalists such as the Trilateral Commission, Carlyle Group, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Bank, conspiring to eventually rule the world through an autonomous world government. This "New World Order" would replace sovereign states and other checks and balances in international power struggles. Recently, these fears have been supported by many of the actions and policies implemented under President George W. Bush (Bush 43) and his administration. Actions such as the illegal invasion of Iraq, the increase of private military contractors, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary renditions, secret prisons, torture and the suspension of habeas corpus in Guantanamo are seen as evidence supporting the NWO conspiracy in the new globalized economy.

    Against the backdrop of this recent historical context and in the wake of the dreaded foreign policy blunders of President Bush 43, President Barack Obama appeared on the world stage at the G-20 Summit and held subsequent meetings with European leaders. At the Summit and in these meetings, Obama set a new tone for dialogue and diplomacy. He listened, engaged in constructive dialogue, demonstrated an appreciation for and understanding of cultural difference and nuance, and apologized for American arrogance, thereby laying the groundwork for a new diplomatic approach to a new world order. A "world order" in which "the principles of justice and fair play protect the weak against the strong. A world where the UN is poised to fulfill the historic vision of its founders. A world in which freedom and respect for human rights find a home among all nations. A world order based on a truer sense of diplomacy, not Bush 43's unilateral and destructive sense of "American Internationalism."

    While in Europe, President Obama said, "... Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive." In Turkey, he called Bush 43's failure to sign the Kyoto global warming pact a "mistake." In Germany, he admitted to being "jealous" of Europe's high-speed rail networks and the brevity of its political campaigns. This message was well-received by European leaders. France's President Sarkozy spoke of a new White House occupant who wanted to "change the world" and was not concerned only with narrow American self-interest.

    In spite of the positive reception that President Obama received throughout Europe, many American neo-conservatives called him the "apologizer-in-chief." Apologists for Bush 43, such as Charles Krauthammer, questioned Obama's vision and his understanding of international diplomacy by writing, "It is passing strange for a world leader to celebrate his own country's decline. A few more such overseas tours, and Obama will have a lot more decline to celebrate." According to the Washington Times, Mary Matlin, a long-time political adviser to both President Bushes, stated, "From my perspective as a conservative, feel-good foreign policy is not leadership. It is arrogant and naive at the same time ... And from my perspective as an American citizen, it is demoralizing. He is going to pound our sense of exceptionalism out of us it it's the last thing he does."

    It was unreasonable if not foolish to attempt to measure the success of this first trip by whether or not European leaders would agree to increase stimulus spending, Russia would agree to help with Iran, or China would agree to assist with North Korea. What these critics fail to understand, appreciate, or admit is the total failure of Bush 43's unilateral approach to foreign policy. Diplomacy is based upon relationships, and relationships are based upon trust. Ignoring the UN, lying to the world about WMD's and invading sovereign countries was no way to make friends and influence people. The benefits from President Obama's European trip may not be realized for another year to eighteen months. Rebuilding trust takes time, candor and humility.

    This past week, Somali pirates seized an American cargo ship and later took its captain, Richard Phillips, hostage. As the Obama administration worked quietly behind the scenes to solve the problem, President Obama was criticized for appearing to be distracted and unconcerned. Others questioned his ability or seeming inability to handle international crisis.

    Then out of the blue, US Navy SEALS freed Captain Phillips. Instead of sending 28,000 soldiers into Mogadishu as President Bush 41 did in 1992 or chasing warlord Mohamed Farah Aideed as President Clinton did in 1993, the Somali pirates were killed simultaneously by three Navy snipers. This was a well-thought-out surgical strike, not a heavy-handed invasion. According to the New York Daily News, Vice Adm. William Gortney, commander of the Navy's Fifth Fleet, stated, "The standoff came to a head when talks with the increasingly agitated buccaneers began to get 'heated,' sea conditions worsened and one pirate was seen leveling an AK-47 at Phillips' back." Contrary to the faulty assumptions of Obama's critics, Gortney said the president gave commanders "very clear guidance and authority" to take action when the captain's life was deemed to be in imminent danger. This sounds more like a president who was actively engaged and involved, not someone who was, "... distracted ... praying that the crisis would resolve itself quickly ... and who would rather be busy remaking American society than dealing with foreign problems ..., " as one of his critics wrote.

    As a result of this steady hand, level head and measured approach, according to The Associated Press, Somalia's Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke says his government "has "identified many pirate leaders and would be willing to share that information with other countries, including the United States, to get the resources needed to go after them." Somalia's response would have been quite different had President Bush 43's unilateral and destructive sense of "American Internationalism" been employed.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez once described Bush 43 as being, "as dangerous as a monkey with a razor blade." If international diplomacy is more akin to brain surgery than rocket science, I prefer to have the surgeon with the level head and steady hand with the scalpel than the monkey with the razor blade.

    President Obama's measured, thoughtful, patient and reasoned approach in Europe and Somalia indicates a refreshing change in tactic, possibly resulting in a new approach to a "New World Order".


     Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program "On With Leon," Producer/Host of the television program "Inside The Issues With Wilmer Leon," a regular guest on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, DC. Go to or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Last modified on Sunday, 19 April 2009 12:07