Whose New World? What Order?
Isis? Israel? Iran? Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Yemen? Afghanistan? Turkey?
This land is whose land? Well, there was a time, not very long ago, when a schmaltzy song and a blockbuster Hollywood movie pretty much set the tone. Israel would prevail, and the United States of America would be its eternal chief ally. Now that that feel-good time has passed, is it all right for unpredictables and happenstance to decide who or what dominates the Levant? Nowhere else than in the present has God ever been depicted in the guise of a Ouija Board as various regional powers move the decisive game piece this way and that. Looking for the Third World War is a fruitless task based on its initial rumblings. But it is difficult not to see, if only through a prismatic, diffuse light, a third leg to a war that erupted in 1914, then again in 1939, and yet again, possibly in 2001, or maybe awaiting a future date. Even as I write a talking war the likes of which I have never heard is going on on the air and the internet. Incredibly, we are not hearing propaganda so much as education. We are finding out about nations and cultures and religions as though a tornado had lifted us up and dumped everyone down into an auditorium. Here we sit, reading, watching, listening, mulling it over, or talking amongst ourselves about what is happening and still to come.
The Ties That Bind
Not shown on the map are agreements involving not just war-torn and war-prone countries, but many, many others. That they have alliances comes as no revelation. It is a well-known fact if at times the details are secretive. Some ties, moreover, are merely emotional. Others involve arms and gobs of money to achieve ends not universally broadcast. In time, much will be revealed. But at the moment what is lacking is a clear notion as to what the uproar is all about in so many Middle Eastern countries. Obviously, they cannot abide their positions within the established order. At one time, appearances indicated that Russian-made military equipment was the exclusive choice for Middle Eastern militants. This is no longer the case. At least one documentary on the loss of Iraq shows that militants managed to acquire a great deal of American materiél. Since arms is a rather obscure subject to the uninformed, it is hard to say what else has got into the mix. While negotiations continue with Iran, it cannot be overlooked that the same country has already entered into an understanding with Russia. As to what this means, one can only assume that in the event of a conflict of interest, Iran will favor Russia, a long-standing ally, while we are not an ally at all.
Whose World Is It?
20th Century World Order
As everyone knows, the 20th century was fraught with wars and disturbances of various kinds. But there never was a sense that the world would change so much as to become unrecognizable. Despite two World Wars, it would not remain indefinitely in a state of flux. Old maps show just how much territory had come temporarily under Nazi domination. Nevertheless, the pressures against its leadership were powerful. The whole world at large, too, it must be said, had the will as well as the stomach to utterly destroy the Nazi. Today, there is almost no fear whatsoever that they will ever re-emerge as a credible organization.
In 1943, while the world was very much at war, Wendell L. Wilkie, a Republican challenger to FDR's Presidency, published a book entitled, One World. Naturally, it is a time-bound account of past current affairs. Within its global scope, as the author travels from Africa to the Middle East, then up to Russia, and down to China, a theme comes about of a new, victorious world on the cusp of entering into creation. No one can see around corners. The author is no exception. His praise for the Red Army, Stalin, Russian farmers, and factory workers is offered in context. Russia will remain Communist, but the situation does not cause concern. Neither does China, assumed to remain under control by Chiang Kai-shek, who will later be scorned as a corrupt, American puppet. Wilkie's hopefulness for the Middle East, which, at the time, does not include Israel, is not his alone. There existed a majority view that Europe would loosen its grip on colonialism, allowing self-determination to be the preferred mode of governance.
The Allies are referred to in the book as the United Nations. Today, the UN, having inherited the name, if nothing else, resonates with a more ambiguous meaning. All the same, Wilkie speaks of the body of collective nations, once known as the League of Nations, as having played a unique and more integral a role in keeping the peace than has actually come about. After all, the idea still has a following. At one time, there were fears that America would be hamstrung by the UN, an obstacle that never became an eventuality. Toward the final pages, Wilkie writes about winning the peace, another stumbling block, as well as one the United States has had more difficulties with than it probably anticipated. Today, the role of the U.S. in foreign affairs is difficult to discern in terms of effectiveness and clarity.
Map of Europe in 1648
The Treaty of Westphalia
It is my understanding, according to Henry Kissinger (World Order), and others, too, that most significant nations can be identified as either Westphalian or in harmony with it. The Treaty or Peace of Westphalia harkens back to 1648. Needless to say, the introduction of a Westphalian concept of sovereign states with self-determination mainly affected the European continent. The American Revolution was not designed to fit nicely into this mosaic. Its self-conceived exceptionalism is something to which, years later, Vladimir Putin strongly objects. Probably only eccentric, died-in-the-wool historians will give the idea of a Westphalian World Order absolute credence, but if there were not some underlying understanding amongst nations throughout the globe, tensions would never subside nor intervals of war reach intervallic conclusions. Today, again, it is my understanding, that an attempt is being made, mostly in the Middle East, and surrounding regions, to thwart the influence of Westphalia as well as the unique role of the United States in world affairs. It is not hard to see that rogue nations and their cohorts would replace the current system with a more hardened Islamist element, not necessarily a Caliphate. Nonetheless, the change-makers are far from united in terms of their various projections into the future.
The Collapse of Communism
In 1989, one of the biggest events ever took place, watched by millions on television, as the Communist "Empire" unraveled. In 1990, however, Saddam Hussein turned everyone's attention to himself when Iraq invaded Kuwait. The United States acted promptly and put together an unprecedented coalition of nations in protest. It did not just complain, denounce, and issue sanctions, but pushed Iraq out in Operation Desert Storm. It set up a no-fly zone and carefully monitored the situation. At the mere mention of weapons of mass destruction, hostilities resumed. What was missing then in comparison to what is happening today is an insuppressible religious factor that no amount of thought or action can surmount. Madness reigns supreme throughout the Middle East. Tyrannical though he was, Hussein once had the distinction of having kept his regime apart from the religious turmoil that infects the region.
Ahead of the pack to either comment on or influence the formation of a new world order, Pat Robertson (The New World Order) published his own take on the situation in 1991. He was quick to inform readers who may not have been acquainted with the catchy phrase that there was nothing "new" about new world orders. In fact, they have been kicking around for centuries. Not only that, but they have involved a number of rather shifty associations whose machinations have never totally come to light. Robertson has an unapologetically Christian stance, yet his writing is fair-minded, informative, and directed toward the reader's conscience. The removal of Communism was not a panacea. One gets the feeling that no matter what the movers and shakers of a new world order put into effect, millions will still suffer, starve, and live short lives filled with misery and despair. If nothing else, his idea of forming a new United Nations that will not cheer blood-soaked dictators and truly make a positive difference should be universally acceptable.
The Ottoman Empire gives way to the British.
Battles, Diplomacy, and the World Map
World War I was fought chiefly in Europe. But it was not called a world war for nothing. Above is a photograph of the surrender of Jerusalem to Great Britain by an empire on the verge of collapse. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 showed that there were forward looking politicos in England very much open to a Jewish homeland, though they fumbled about in its actual execution. The history of Israel along with that of Palestine can be found elsewhere. In March/April of 2015 there are urgent matters that cannot be ignored. The present administration's emphasis on diplomacy over armed conflict is probably worth a try. Many lament the sacrifices made by the U.S. to secure both Afghanistan and Iraq, the latter lost to a band of hooligans. Iraq has slipped into chaos while Afghanistan remains somewhat of a mystery. In any case, terrorist groups have adapted. They can help themselves to a number of hospitable nations from which to stage actions, recruit, and train. There may be opportunities to form partnerships, if only temporarily, to stave off unwanted scenarios, though on the surface, talks with Iran, for example, would seem totally counterproductive. In the end, probably no lasting new world order will come about. But the escalation in terms of violence in various parts of a rather large area involving at least a dozen different countries is too much now for American troops, ground or air, or sea for that matter, to simply "go in".
It seems as though no pertinent discussion of new world order does not at least touch upon both the French Revolution and President Wilson's unique peacemaking role in the aftermath of World War I. Both attempts to restructure nations based on the regnant idealism went amiss, the former resulting in a dictatorship, the latter in a brutal backlash. Even so, the attempt to forge a better, longer-lasting new world order is not out of the question. In fact, it is the very goal to keep in mind moving forward. The stakes are higher only because the technology of warfare has ratcheted up exponentially. Nevertheless, the notion, however unpopular, of trying to find out what is producing terrorists, is not without merit. It is only that the clock is running.
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John Kerry in Switzerland
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