Somebody should tell George Bush this. His father propagated the new world order. The son is unwittingly destroying it. A world order requires rule of law and democratic consent. Arbitrary sovereign power must yield to global institutions having international sanction. On the contrary, America has refused to ratify the International Criminal Court (ICC) set up in the Hague last year. It continues to undermine the UN. It opposes international regimes like the Kyoto protocol.
No wonder the world is cynical about the war against terrorism. America is ignoring majority sentiment in the UN regarding Iraq. It displays brazen contradictions towards Iraq and North Korea regarding nuclear weapons. Worse, it is initiating measures that cut at the roots of democracy.
Last December it was learnt that Bush signed an executive order authorising him to effect the liquidation of any individual anywhere perceived by his officials to be an "enemy combatant". No trial, no law, no citizenship rights, would protect from assassination by the US government any individual worldwide deemed to be an enemy combatant. Is this any better than Osama bin Laden?
America might win the battles against terrorism and lose the war. President Bush might defeat Osama bin Laden. But isn't Al Qaeda defeating America? If in fighting terrorism America adopts Osama's methods, who is the ultimate victor? What kind of world order can emerge?
The irony is that America is best placed to shape a new world order. As indicated earlier in this column, history and circumstance made America less a nation than a world capital. Almost every citizen is a migrant having dual loyalties between America and the mother country. This can be turned into a source of strength. As the richest and most powerful nation, the US interacts with all nations. It can become the crucible in which international disputes get resolved through its domestic lobbying.
To create a new world order, America will need to display a vision to match its power. Americans would have to learn to think and act as world citizens. Only then will the US attract global support for leadership. Otherwise, America could plunge the world into chaos.
When the chair is big
And the leader is small,
Who cares a fig
When he gives a call?