The New World Order 25 Years Later: Success or Failure?

John Kofas*

Washington D.C., April 5, 2015, (Alochonaa):

Introduction: Unilateral Militarism and Destabilization under the New World Order In a joint session of Congress on 11 September 1990, President George H.W. Bush proclaimed the birth of the “New World Order”. This is a concept President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) had introduced in connection with his multilateral approach to foreign policy in the aftermath of the First World War as embodied in the Fourteen Points and the League of Nations covenant. Wilson’s multilateralism – as opposed to unilateralism embodied in the doctrine of isolationism pursued until his administration – was an admission that the US can only solve large balance of power issues in the world through a multilateral involvement because that would achieve the best results and benefit US interests. US foreign policy assumptions imbedded in Bush’s view of the New World Order (NWO) were diametrically opposite to Wilsonian internationalism. Of course, the global power structure was very different in 1990 than in 1918. However, the tools of statecraft are the same and the multipolar balance of power comparable. In outlining US post-Cold War goals and modalities, Bush made the following statement about how the New World Order (NWO) would usher in a new era of justice, freedom and democracy for the entire world.

“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.”

If instead of making the sweeping messianic statements about the NWO, Bush had simply said that this means US-style capitalism under globalization and neoliberal policies will triumph across the entire world because there is no model of a political economy other than the one of US-style capitalism, then he would have told the absolute truth to the world. However, he chose to make vacuous rhetorical statements that were intended solely for domestic mass consumption and to induce global mass conformity to globalization and neoliberal policies that he apparently equated with human rights, justice, freedom, etc.

One could argue that in the midst of euphoric celebrations over the crash of the Soviet bloc, the US political class along with the media, businesses, and even most academics who should have known better chose to make sweeping pronouncements about the teleological nature of the end of the Cold War, as though Jesus Christ had just returned to preside over humanity’s eternal salvation.

The ultimate goal for making such grandiose statements was to project an image to the world that the US won the Cold War and remains the only military, economic, political and cultural superpower – hyperpuissance par excellence. At the same time, the goal was to convince the American people that such a grand victory also constitutes a victory for domestic institutions no matter the plight of the poor, the declining middle class in the Western World and deterioration of public education, and the growing gap between poor and rich on the planet. Has there been greater “freedom and respect for human rights” in the US, or has democracy fallen victim to the US-led “war on terror”, which replaced the Cold War? What does the US Senate Intelligence report of 2015 tell us about US and human rights justified by the “culture of counterterrorism”? What is the record of the US with regard to “protecting the weak from the strong”? And what about civil rights and glaring violations that have forced cities like Chicago to pay out millions to victims? Is the world safer now because of the end of the East-West confrontation, is it freer and more tolerant since 1990, as Bush promised that it would be when he delivered the NWO speech? Has capitalism delivered fair play and justice to the masses throughout the world, as Bush insisted would be the case? Has the political economy of the NWO protected the weak from the strong as he promised, or do we continue to have unemployed inner city black youth shot down by police, occupied Palestinians killed in Gaza by Israeli gunfire while the US remains deferential to Tel Aviv’s policies?

Has militarism decreased in the last 25 years, have regional conflicts evaporated, have nuclear weapons been banned and the world is now safer than ever? On the contrary, we have seen a rise in world defense spending, many countries doubling their expenditures between 2000 and 2014. US military solutions in foreign affairs go largely unchecked as do covert operations that are part of a destabilizing policy in a number of countries from the former Soviet republics (Ukraine) to Latin America (Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and Argentina most notably), Syria to Pakistan.

The US has not renounced military solutions to political crises and in fact it has been creating new crises, directly and indirectly at times collaborating with what it labels “terrorists” in Libya and Syria to bring about regime change and then fighting against the same terrorists with whom it had collaborated. The NWO simply means that the US is much freer than it had ever been to destabilize countries in order to integrate them militarily, politically and economically. The NWO has created a more unstable world, largely because the US and its NATO partners do not have a serious military rival to challenge their direct or covert interventions intended to deny the right to self determination in countries targeted for regime change. Violating national sovereignty in any form from political and military to economic is a form of aggressive intervention to impose hegemony.

The NWO is indeed a form of Pax Americana (US economic, political, and military hegemony) revived to reflect the absence of a military superpower rival that can effectively challenge the US role in the world. Naturally, Pax Americana as it existed in 1950 is not possible today because the global power shift is moving increasingly toward Asia. In an acknowledgment of the twilight of Pax Americana, Henry Kissinger recently argued that the US needs to collaborate with China to “lead the world” (manage world affairs) together, another interpretation of the NWO to account for China’s power. Even this Metternichian early 19th century concept of world affairs management under a new type of NWO implies the violation of national sovereignty of the weak by the strong, an imperialist concept that Kissinger has always embraced and modeled after Austrian foreign minister Klemens Wenzel von Metternich whose goal was to preserve the European balance of power and status quo in the post-Napoleonic era.

1. Distrust of Government under the New World Order One can easily understand the skepticism not only of the rest of the world about the US-centered NWO concept, but also of Americans, especially young people as we have seen in social networks. According to various public opinion polls in the US and other countries, there is a segment of the public that believes the US and Israel were either behind the attacks on 9/11, or at the very least their intelligence services knew of the attacks ahead of time. I think conspiracy theories are ridiculous unless incontrovertible facts support such theories. That a percentage of people accept conspiracy theories indicates as much of the irrational prevailing as a deep mistrust of public officials and the media. That people in Indonesia and Pakistan believe in conspiracy involving US role in 9/11 is somewhat understandable. That even a small segment of the American people shares the same view as Muslims is indicative of the profound skepticism that exists about the US government’s credibility. The level of skepticism seems to rise as time passes and it is correlated with age, as young people tend to disbelieve the US government. We live in an age of public skepticism about the social contract’s inability to fulfill its obligations to citizens partly because the government violates the Constitution with regard to privacy (in 1928 the Court reviewed convictions obtained on the basis of evidence gained through taps on telephone wires in violation of state law. On a five–to– four vote, the Court held that wiretapping was not within the confines of the Fourth Amendment.) violations through illegal surveillance. If this is as a true in the US as mistrust is in Putin’s oligarchic-controlled Russia, people have lost confidence not just in public institutions but also private that influence public policy on behalf of the socioeconomic elites and at the expense of the middle class and workers. The erosion if not loss of public confidence in institutions is a very serious because it leads people to accept conspiracy theories, no matter how absurd. Yielding to conspiracy theories is indicative that people feel helpless, especially to a conspiracy theory regarding the NWO that really appeals to people’s sense of utter dependence on forces overwhelmingly outside their control and far beyond their level of comprehension. Clearly, right-wing populists are exploiting such conspiracy theories and this is one reason that the French neo-Fascist party (Front National) of Marine Le Pen is actually on its way to become the dominant one in the country or at least number two. Similarly, there are right-wing ultra-nationalist, racist and xenophobic political parties or movements within political parties across the entire world, including the US Tea Party as an integral part of the GOP with deep links to the religious right that believes the NWO is a conspiracy by “unpatriotic” sinister forces. NWO critics also include centrists and leftists that see the hegemonic power of a few hundred businesses and a few hundred super rich controlling most of the world’s wealth and influencing policies in every domain from foreign affairs where regional conflicts arise to minimum wage and social security benefits. NWO as a force of capitalism very different from the Jeffersonian model clearly signals to centrists and leftists that democracy is either in decline or failing altogether by giving way to an oligarchic system of rule. The inexorable link between increased global integration and inequality is something that many people attribute to the NWO, just as others insist that the erosion of democracy is the result of supra-national power corporations enjoy under the NWO. Transformation policy originated during WWII when Breton Woods set the current global mechanisms to loosely manage the world economy with the goal on integrating it under the patron-client economic-political-military model. The NWO is a continuation of transformation policy and clearly the triumph of US-based capitalism against Soviet-based Communism. The old world order was the Cold War bipolar global power structure that had the world divided between East and West as manifested not only in the ideological struggle, but the nuclear arms race, the race for strategic minerals, energy and markets, the race for everything from winning the race to the moon to winning the race for influence in the world. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the bipolar world gave way to the unipolar where the US dominates militarily and politically, but must share with other Great Powers the management of the world economy. The fundamental structure of the capitalist world economy in the early 21st century is not very different than it was in the early 20th century when the Great Powers were competing for markets throughout the world to strengthen their national economies and benefit their national capitalist class and for military advantages. The downfall of the USSR and the Chinese government decision to modernize the country under the capitalist system and through close global integration convinced many that indeed there is something new in the world order, when in fact the only “new” elements was geographic integration into the economic system of countries previously participating at a minimal level and under their own national policies not international rules of trade, investment, production, consumption and labor policies.

With the exception of the Soviet Bloc and China disengaging from the capitalist world economy, the tools of statecraft and capitalist system remained the same throughout the Cold War when the US created a global economic, political, and military network to strengthen and manage the Western bloc. The creation of the IMF, World Bank, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the International Labor Organization, NATO, SEATO, and OAS were all part of a US-centered network to sustain the global system and ultimately bring down not just the rival Communist regimes around the world, but the non-aligned especially in Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser, Indonesia under Sukarno, Burma under Thankin Nu, Yugoslavia under Josip Tito, Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah, and India under Nehru. In other words, any country not well integrated into the US-based capitalist world order was targeted for regime change. The non-aligned experiment was an affirmation of national sovereignty that was diametrically opposed to the integration model based on a patron-client model.

Besides the consolidation of the neoliberal model under globalization intended to preserve the geographic and socioeconomic inequality on a world scale, and besides the militarist component of the NWO as a core tool of statecraft, we have seen the culture of fear rise sharply around the world, especially in the US that has institutionalized the “war on terror” as permanent machinery at home and abroad. If Bush had explained to the world in 1990 that the culture of fear would actually rise much higher than it ever was during the Cold when there was a nuclear war threat, how many people would have welcomed it as blindly as they did? The culture of fear by itself may sound innocuous enough but it is a method of sociopolitical conformity from which the public cannot escape because the mass media constantly hammers on it. Moreover, the culture of fear under the NWO has contributed to the deterioration of democracy as government has relied more on police and military often in flagrant violation of the constitution.

2. Obstacles to the New World Order: Terrorism and Russia or Pax Americana? One could argue that the NWO does not work because Islamic terrorists, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and above all Putin’s Russia just will not allow for a peaceful world where Pax Americana may finally prevail with its patron-client integration model. After all, the US did not invite Islamic terrorism, it did not invite rogue states like North Korea to constantly agitate, and it did not invite Putin to become a hardened nationalist interested in reviving some of Russia’s lost glory from the Czarist era. How can the US by itself do anything about the NWO when there are states and rebel-terrorist movements that will not permit for the implementation of this new order? It is true that we do have countries around the world trying to affirm their own policies unilaterally or through regional cooperation rather than conforming to a single world system like the NWO as the US conceives of it. We also have militant movements among the most prominent al-Qaeda and more recently ISIS challenging the status quo and regional balance of power. The question is not the existence of such militant movements and states affirming national policies running counter to the NWO, but how the US and its allies react to them in order to resolve conflict through political means or exacerbate the situation by seeking military solutions in order to preserve the declining Pax Americana. One irony in the process of Pax Americana’s decline is that for decades it preserved itself by diminishing the national political, economic and military sovereignty of other countries over which it exerted inordinate influence.

Yet, the American middle class and workers are now paying a heavy for the privilege of creating and maintaining its global role under the NWO. One of the reactions for the globalization process under US hegemony is nationalist reaction from other countries. Not just Russia, Venezuela, and Iran, but most countries resent having their national sovereignty compromised, unless their comprador political and economic elites are better off under the NWO.

The perception that the US is using the cover of the NWO to remain the world’s hegemonic power and to weaken the political, economic and military sovereignty of other nations is much more evident in countries I mentioned above than in England, for example. While the US sees rogue nationalist states and Islamic militants as obstacles to the NOW, many around the world see the NWO as a thin veil of Pax Americana and imperialist aggression invading their homeland if not with troops then through trade and investment that undermine national enterprises and weaken national capital in favor of international interests, through cultural imperialism that permeates everything from cinema, TV and music to shoe styles and way of a hedonistic lifestyle. How can the meaning of the NWO be the same to a New York banker as to a devout Muslim in rural Pakistan that sees the US as an invader in every sense from military to commercial?

3. A big percentage of people hold the N.W.O view as factual. Why are people absorbed by this idea? To the degree that people realize there is absolutely nothing they can do about the political economy, foreign and defense policy operating under the NWO, they become resigned to the idea. People feel just as powerless about reforming or abolishing the IMF that imposes austerity on debtor nations, the WTO that regulates trade in favor of the large companies and powerful nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Paris Club (international consortium of creditor countries making large scale loans to governments), OPEC, etc.

People recognize that their own lives, those of their families and loved ones depend on conformity to the status quo. This is why politicians, journalists, consultants, academics, and especially business people will sing the praises of whatever government declares official policy, including the NWO. Besides, to actively and publicly oppose it in the age of counterterrorism means that the dissident is taking a big risk of labeled unpatriotic. The vast majority of the people, including journalists, politicians, businesspeople, and academics simply repeat the official line on the NOW. People rarely bother researching and analyzing this complex topic for themselves. However, even if they did, what benefit would they have criticizing it, any more than if they criticized any official policy? Besides fear and self interest, there is no alternative but to openly embrace the NWO that is synonymous with globalization and neoliberal policies business and government support.

Although there are those who embrace NWO for ideological reasons, opportunism rather than ideology rules the day when it comes to the interests of individuals and organizations. Globalization is evident in what people wear, what they drive, mechanical devices they use on a daily basis, and the modern means of communication. In short, globalization is an integral part of culture and this means that the NWO is more real culturally than it is politically.

4. Religion and the New World Order: What is the role of religion and have religious cults infiltrated the government to achieve such goal? Considering the bickering between the main religions of the world and the fact that different religions support different regimes, the idea that “religions have infiltrated governments” to create one world religion that reflects the NWO is rather absurd but popular with a segment of the population. Along the lines of NWO conspiracy promoters, Henry Makow, The Cruel Hoax: Feminism and the New World Order states that: “Rockefeller and Rothschild created feminism to poison male-female relations (divide and conquer.) Their twin objectives are depopulation and totalitarian world government. Why? These bankers create money out of nothing and think they are God. “Cruel Hoax” shows the connection between feminism, Communism and 9-11. It examines male-female relations and shows how we can take back our heterosexuality.” This sort of right wing madness and populist propaganda actually has a wider audience than one might imagine. When we set aside the absurdities of this author, we must really wonder why the appeal to so many people, why are people so willing to accept on face value such blatant conspiracy theories. The mystique of the NWO makes people with proclivities toward religion/spiritualism arrive at various conclusions, depending also on their secular ideological predisposition.

For example, there are those who believe that all large mainstream religions are behind the NOW in order to create one world religion just as they wish to create a single world government and single world currency. As paranoid as it may sound, it may not be so illogical given that the large mainstream religions support the political economy. Despite their rhetorical claims about the poor, mainstream religions help to maintain the status quo by keeping people in conformity rather than rebelling to improve society. The only improvement on which religions focus is the spiritual dimension and the other world, rather than social justice down here on earth where it matters. Throughout history religion has played a catalytic role in unifying people of the same faith but divide them between different faiths.

Moreover, religion has been a cause and justification for wars throughout history as well as exploitation that includes such institutions as slavery. Because institutionalized religions are invariably on the side of the political and socioeconomic elites, their “unifying” element only helps the elites to impose conformity on the masses, and it is no different with the NWO, regardless of what fanatic and opportunistic religious elements claim on this score. It is true that the current Pope Francis is a great deal more progressive than any Pope in recent history.

He is critical of the rich-poor gap in the world, critical of capitalism as the panacea, and far more interested in inter-faith cooperation than any recent pontiff. Pope Francis has reached out to everyone and really tried to project a new image of a more humble leader closer to the masses than to the elites with which the Vatican has historically identified. His message is directed toward the clergy of other faiths as well as religious followers so that they put aside their differences and find common ground for coexistence instead of perpetuating divisions and hatred.

However, there is absolutely nothing the Vatican can do about the NWO, about ending hostilities between religious fanatics on all sides and certainly the Pope will not be able to provide a political solution for conflicts when that is the role of governments. There are those who believe that there is a connection between Satanic cults and religious cults linked to the NWO, as though the NWO were some corporation, government agency, international bank like the World Bank, etc. The NWO is a vague concept no different than the concept of American Exceptionalism, US neo-isolationism or the Puritan Work Ethic. While it is possible for groups or people to infiltrate the State Department, the IMF, Microsoft Corp. etc, is possible that a religious cult could possibly infiltrate “American Exceptionalism” or any of the concepts I mentioned above? It is very unfortunate that so many people yield to irrationality and conspiracy theories that honestly stretch credulity to the utmost limits. It is one thing to analyze the NWO as detrimental to the American conservative tradition of isolationism and another thing to blame religious cults and Satanic groups of controlling and manipulating “IT”.

5. Single World Currency Theory: What would it take for a one world currency to happen and what are the advantages and disadvantages in how a world currency would affect our planet? The issue of the single world currency theory raises questions about who enjoys monetary policy control, which by extension means control if not inordinate influence over fiscal policy, trade policy, labor policy, etc. over all nations using the currency. We have seen a mini-model of a bloc currency with the euro and how Germany as the hegemonic economic power uses the currency to determine what policies each of the members will pursue that ultimately strengthen finance capitalism strongest in Germany. The revitalization of capitalism and PR proclamations about the “end of history” as though the world underwent social discontinuity and the Second Coming of capitalism was upon us seemed to be very hollow as contemporary history has indeed proved in the last 25 years. Capitalism sinks into crisis mode when it contracts cyclically (every fifteen to twenty years or so), dragging down with it democracy and political institutions, that even apologists of the political economy acknowledge as major media outlets indicate with their headlines. While the NWO public relations drums are a bit softer in recent years owing to the end of the recession that started in 2008, conspiracy theory advocates are gaining ground because a handful of people own half of the world’s wealth. Although the NWO concept tends to alienate if not polarize people, this does not mean that the neoliberal school of thought is not alive and well within the circles of finance and corporate capitalism, IMF, World Bank, central banks, and of course governments.

In other words, globalization is alive and well despite cyclical contractions of the economy. The mass paranoia about the NWO is a manifestation of the culture of fear on the part of many people that their destiny is in the hands of the very powerful who have no qualms sacrificing society to retain their own privileges. Social transformation during the NWO era has resulted in a wide gap between rich and poor, a weaker middle class and working class, a weak social fabric and a political system that is behaving more like a police state than a democracy. How is this best for society in economic, social or political terms, although it is indeed great for the socioeconomic elites enjoying the second Gilded Age in America (first Gilded Age from late 1870s to late 1880s led to the age of Progressivism.)

The idea that the world economy as currently constituted can somehow find salvation through some technical monetary fix like a single reserve currency, as neo-isolationist Americans fear, is absurd because it makes absolutely no difference to global trade. If we take the EU monetary union as a model for world monetary union, then what we can expect is that a single power or two or three at most would ultimately enjoy hegemony over monetary policy. This means that the powers exercising monetary policy would do so to make sure that trade and investment advantages accrue to their corporations and their national economies at the expense of the rest. Just as Germany currently imposes monetary hegemony and by extension fiscal, trade and investment hegemony on the rest of the EU, a single world currency model would entail a similar scenario.

In such a world, would China determine monetary policy, would the US and its allies, would the BRICS come together to forge an alliance? Kissinger would like to see US-China cooperation. Why is that a better scenario than US-EU-Japan one that exists now, why would not China team up with a group of countries it chooses to advance its own interests, which or many not include the US? It is implausible and indeed a very highly unlikely scenario the world will ever see single reserve currency when we have a number of regional ones now that do the job. Exchange rate costs add to productivity costs, but that is minimal and hardly the technical panacea for structural problems of the capitalist world economy that is rooted in geographic and socioeconomic inequality.

The NWO has actually exacerbated this condition, if we consider that world trade has risen sharply along with world GDP in the last three decades, yet, the rich-poor gap remains very wide, capital massively concentrated and downward social mobility in the Western World continues. A single reserve currency will not raise global GDP and it would not alter such structural conditions in the system but it will result in even greater profits for export-import business of products and services.


The global power of power rooted in the East-West confrontation from Truman to Reagan entailed that Moscow and Washington were managing global affairs to a large degree with China and its allies trying to be a counterweight between the two superpowers. Washington and Moscow enjoyed playing such roles in a divided world, where regional conflicts such as Vietnam dragged in the superpowers. The NWO ended the management of world affairs between Moscow and Washington, bringing into the foreground the G-7 and China as the world’s inevitable economic superpower with the US retaining the status of the sole military superpower. The NWO had different nuances to different US administrations.

For Bush it was a clear political victory and entailed the triumph of what the French called hyperpuissance – the complete world hegemony in every domain from military to cultural. For Clinton, NWO translated into a new version of the old “Dollar Diplomacy” in so far as the US tried to secure as market share in the former Soviet republics and Asia. For George W. Bush it meant the revival of the US as the world’s policeman and seeking military solutions to political crises as we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama borrowed from previous presidents, literally trying a balancing mix between maintaining the strength of the military industrial complex and Clinton’s Dollar Diplomacy.

History will judge if in the first 25 years of the NOW nations and people have enjoyed greater peace and prosperity than in the 45 years before 1990 during the Soviet-American confrontation epoch. History has shown already that under the NWO there is greater wealth concentration and less income distribution among social classes in comparison to the Cold War. Contrary to euphoric claims, especially during the 1990s, that globalization can lead to democracy on a world scale, social justice, and improve welfare for the world’s masses, the tragic reality is that global poverty along with Third World debt have been rising along with political instability. Globalization has only intensified the North-South conflict; income inequality has increased not just in the non-Western World, but within the G-7 richest countries. The result of the NWO, which is just a variation of the capitalist integration model after the fall of Communist regimes, has been socioeconomic and political polarization.

Communism ended with the assumption on the part of most that entails capitalism “won” when in reality all signs point to a long decline from which there is no return. Exactly what was the victory and where are its fruits, especially in light of the renewed US-Russia confrontation over Ukraine, NATO expansion when the very existence of NATO cannot be justified by the NWO, energy policy, among other issues? As far as the rest of the world, how has the NWO helped to promote greater national self determination when the US and its European, Japanese and Australian partners collaborate to deny national sovereignty because the ultimate goal is integration under globalization. Clearly, China has benefited enormously as a result on new market share on a world scale.

Because China is the world’s new economic superpower with a bright future, the new global balance of power looks very different today than it did when Bush made his lofty speech in 1990. China benefited enormously by the persistence of high US defense spending and military adventures that siphon off wealth from the civilian economy and sink the public sector deeper in debt. “The Peace Dividend” was just a temporary break in massive defense spending, and it did not take long to the US to create new fronts for conflict and resort to more defense spending that resulted in neither peace not any dividends for the American taxpayer. While it was the US that celebrated the end of Communism and the triumph of “End of History”, it is in fact China reaping the benefits of the NWO while the US is suffering from multiple problems, ranging from the massive public debt and chronic balance of payments deficits, to rising socioeconomic inequality to loss of faith in the institutions by an increasingly larger segment of the public. For symbolic purposes, for keeping the morale of the American people high, for purposes of distraction from economic and social issues that concern the workers and middle class, the NWO serves its purpose as much as it does to maintain high levels of defense.

*Jon Kofas is a retired Professor . He has published many works including; Independence From America: Global Integration And Inequality, Under the Eagle’s Claw: Exceptionalism in Postwar U.S, Greek Relations and The Sword of Damocles, and The IMF, the World Bank, and U.S. Foreign Policy in Colombia and Chile, 1950-1970.

** is not responsible for any factual mistakes (if any) of this analysis. This analysis further is not necessarily representative of’s view. We’re happy to facilitate further evidence-based submissions on this topic. Please send us your submission at

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