[P6335] Iraq at the Center of the New World Order

Created by Michael Brill
Tuesday, 11/30/21 2:00 pm


Speaking before Congress on September 11, 1990, U.S. President George H.W. Bush articulated his vision of a “New World Order” that would animate the U.S.-led coalition’s response to Baʿthist Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait. The waning of the Cold War and its bipolar gridlock had freed the United Nations, led by the U.S., to strive for a world in which the spread of freedom and human rights would reach all nations. The seemingly decisive nature by which this new era began with the rapid liberation of Kuwait in February 1991 became increasingly fleeting with the passage of time. Not only did Saddam Hussein’s regime cling to power, but it did not crumble under sanctions, thwarted UN inspectors and covert attempts to overthrow it, and continued to defy the international community whose consensus narrowed each year. Thus, the inaugural event for the New World Order revealed that the diplomacy, politics, and warfare of the old world had not gone away. Moreover, history had not ended and the centrality of Iraq for U.S. policymakers in particular had placed the Baʿthist regime at the crossroads of emergent concerns about rogue statues, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism. Iraq also became a textbook case for growing international concerns about humanitarianism. The aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War in northern Iraq resulted in the first humanitarian intervention approved by the UN Security Council, which also challenged state sovereignty. Papers in this panel will discuss the Baʿthist regime’s responses to both the ideational and concrete policy visions it was the subject and target of by the international community, led by the United States. Other contributions will both broadly and narrowly examine the ways in which Iraqi opposition parties used the language of human rights in their efforts to enlist the support of the international community against the regime. The loss of regime control over northern Iraq provided a safe haven for opposition groups and foreign intelligence services to operate. This contributed to the regime’s increased scrutiny of religious minorities like Iraq’s remaining Jews, perceived to be a security vulnerability. And in spite of international isolation, the Baʿthist regime continued to use formal and informal diplomatic channels to advance its interests and export its ideology to regions such as East Africa, with mixed results. Iraq at the center of the New World Order suggests that history had neither ended nor returned, but rather never went away.


Intl Rltns/Aff




Samuel Helfont

(Naval War College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Michael Brill

(Princeton University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter; Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Kate Tietzen

(U.S. Army Center of Military History)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Joseph Kotinsly

(University of Texas at Austin)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;