New World Order

The book on foreign policy.

EIGHT YEARS AGO, ON A FINE, WARM DAY LATE in August, two men decided to go fishing for bluefish off the coast of Maine. One was George Bush, then the president of the United States; the other was General Brent Scowcroft, the president’s national security adviser. Just three weeks earlier, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had overrun Kuwait. Since then, the White House had been in a frenzy of activity to respond to this thuggish aggression on the other side of the world. This little fishing expedition, four hours of peace without ringing phones and urgent visits, was the first time the two men had been able to reflect on all that had happened and, in particular, on the fact that the Soviet Union, or what was left of it, had joined the United States in a coalition opposing Iraq. “We started to talk about what this meant for the future,” Bush told me in a recent interview. “One of the hallmarks of the world up to then was the automatic opposition between us and Russia anytime there was conflict, and that paralyzed the ability to do anything. Here was the first time since the founding of the United Nations that the two of us were on the same side. And Brent and I started speculating on what kind of world it would be if the two countries could cooperate. And that was where the term ‘new world order’ came from. We talked about how to move the world in that direction in the way we conducted our affairs.”

Today it might appear that the world has changed yet again, that our most worrisome threats come not just from rogue nations but from stateless terrorists with their lethal conspiracies and secret organizations. It was such ruthless zealots who bombed the World Trade Center in New York, the federal building in Oklahoma City, and our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. But after reading A World Transformed, by George Bush and Brent Scowcroft (published in September by Knopf), it is clear that these kinds of threats are an extension of the

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