Friday, June 25, 2010

New International Economic Order or New World Order

New World Order has been used to refer to a new period of history evidencing a dramatic change in world political thought and the balance of power. The first usages of the term surrounded Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points and call for a League of Nations following the devastation of World War I. The phrase was used sparingly at the end of the Second World War when describing the plans for the United Nations and Bretton Woods system, in part because of the negative association to the failed League of Nations the phrase would bring. In retrospect however, many commentators have applied the term retroactively to the order put in place by WWII victors as a “new world order.”

The most recent, and most widely discussed, application of the phrase came at the end of the Cold War. Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and George H. W. Bush used the term to try to define the nature of the post Cold War era, and the spirit of great power cooperation that they hoped might materialize. Gorbachev’s initial formulation was wide ranging and idealistic, but his ability to press for it was severely limited by the internal crisis of the Soviet system. Bush’s vision was, in comparison, much more circumscribed and pragmatic, perhaps even instrumental at times, and closely linked to the Gulf War. Perhaps not surprisingly, the perception of what the new world order entailed in the press and in the public imagination far outstripped what either Gorbachev or Bush had outlined, and was characterized by nearly comprehensive optimism.

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