By Michael Djordjevic
Addressing a joint session of Congress on Sept. 1, 1990, President George H.W. Bush proclaimed the advent of the New World Order. A new era of peace, prosperity, transnationalism and integration was ahead for long-suffering humankind.
The new system was based on the notion that nation-states are destructive to the progress of humankind because nationalism, like cancer, spreads and causes conflicts. Therefore, dominant and enduring international institutions should be empowered to coordinate worldwide efforts in the political, social and economic realms.
The collapse of communism presented the world with unforeseen problems. As the Cold War ended, many countries and people began to reclaim their individual national identity, traditions and self-interest. Future historians may well conclude that the Yugoslav civil-religious war (1991-1998) tested the viability of this new order. "Yugoslav carnage poses painful questions for the Western Alliance and the United Nations," possibly "foretelling a failure of the New World Order," said the May 15, 1992, New York Times.
Overwhelmed with realities of history and tradition, of nationalism and religion, of their own convictions and biases, the architects of the new order failed to implement their vision and successfully deal with its very first challenge. Simply, America was not ready for the New World (dis)Order.
The proponents of the new order saw the Yugoslav tragedy as a laboratory and a test for the New World Order concepts and collective actions by such supranational bodies as the United Nations, the European Union and NATO. Conceivably, they believed that by interfering in Yugoslav internal affairs and against Serbian nationalism they could set up an early example of how to stamp out national aspirations and interests, establish democracy and multiethnic-multireligious societies and states by collective mechanism of the New World Order. But it did not work out that way. Neither is it working now in Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo, nor will it work in the Israeli-Palestinian clash.
In the ebb-and-flood tides of the struggle between Christianity and Islam beginning in the 8th century and continuing to the 20th century, each side had two major advances and two major reverses, approximately four centuries apart. We are now witnessing the fifth cycle, which is for the first time simultaneous. The West has been moving into the East economically and militarily. The Islamic tide almost invisibly is seeping into the West not by arms or economic power, but via steady immigration, settlement, threat of or actual violence and ongoing demographic expansion.
The struggle for the New World Order is unfolding in the Middle East with conventional warfare and suicide bombers, and within the ramparts of Western civilization as a new guerrilla type of combat threatening the foundations of democracy, free-market economies and pluralistic open society. This cunning and cancerous model was successfully used in Kosovo over the past 90 years.
There are currently two specific historical and geopolitical cases whose resolution will have an important long-term impact on this ongoing clash of civilizations — Kosovo and Israel. Although the dynamics and characteristics of the two conundrums are varied, they have basic common implications for the West. Serbs and Jews are fighting to preserve their ancestral land and the spring of their metaphysics. The Serbs have historically been the "Guardians of the Gate" of Europe against Islam, while the Jews are the only outpost of the Judeo-Christian civilization and its core values in the Islamic Middle East. Both are struggling for survival, their common and historical enemy being Islam.
No other issue dominates so pervasively and antagonistically the U.S.-Islam relationship as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its fair resolution is the prerequisite for peace between the West and Islam. As amply manifested in Kosovo and in the Middle East, ever-increasing concessions to radical Islamist alone will not end the clash. In addition to complex and difficult geostrategic decisions, the West must also candidly face the legacy of past flawed policies.
The West should stop blaming the Serbs for something they have not done — attempting to establish "Greater Serbia," and the Israelis for something they cannot do — give up Jerusalem along with their future security and survival. Solutions to grave world problems cannot be achieved by willfully disregarding the historical and legitimate aspirations of nations and people. Moreover, democracy, tolerance, the rule of law and respect for human rights and for religious and cultural diversity cannot be secured and sustained by double standards.
The survival of the West is doubtful, if dependent, upon global institutions and pursued only by economic and military power. As in the past, the current fight is not just about oil or other material riches. It is essentially and foremost a deadly contest of ideas and metaphysical beliefs.
We have received a "wake-up call" not only from Osama bin Laden but, more importantly, from the ayatollahs and imams.