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President George H. W. Bush and His Vision of a New World Order

President George H. W. Bush will be treated well by historians, in part because he embraced and defended a post-WWII international system in which America led the free world on a path to peace and prosperity; a global order defined by free trade and international law. He firmly believed in a world in which nations could gain more through cooperation than through completion, one in which small states no longer had to fear the expansionist inclinations of their neighbors.

Houston Chronicle: "President Franklin D. Roosevelt had hoped the creation of the United Nations Security Council would allow countries to act in concert to secure the peace. He and others saw a future where nations were fully integrated into global institutions like the World Trade Organization, World Bank and United Nations — with the United States firmly at the center. For Bush, it was one where free markets and free people were universally shared values."

The Cold War challenged that vision, but President Truman and those who followed built a structure for the free world that endured the crisis. And George H. W. Bush was there to invite America's Cold War foes to join that international system and reap the rewards. He understood that Roosevelt's vision was more attainable than ever and he grasped the opportunity.

Houston Chronicle: ..."He worked closely with allies to reunite Germany and helped from a distance to support the former Soviet Union’s bumpy (and incomplete) path toward democracy. He embraced and enforced the international agreement known as the Montreal Protocol that would heal the hole in the Ozone Layer, and he negotiated NAFTA to better integrate North America."

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, Bush knew that America's response would define the post-Cold War system. He envisaged a "New World Order" of global cooperation led by the United States. In a speech to Congress in 1991 he said, “Out of these troubled times ... a new world order can emerge. A new era, freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, and more secure in the quest for peace.”

President Bush and the UN Security Counsel assembled a coalition to drive Hussein from Kuwait but his vision for the future stumbled a bit thereafter because of flawed US leadership [the Second Gulf War] and renewed challenges from Russia and China. But no international system will ever work perfectly in a world of despots, religious tensions, dwindling resources...and human nature. And what is the alternative?

#opinion #InternationalRelations

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