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If I had been near the battle lines when the Arab states launched
their surprise attack on Israel in 1967, it would no doubt have left an
indelible mark in my memory. As it was, with a safety zone of over a
hundred miles, my memory of the facts has grown dim. Were those really
high explosives? Were they really killing people? The truth is: I
really didn’t think much about the episode once it was over.

As it was, I had the final hours of the Gulf War to think about.
President Bush assured us we had been fighting for a “New World Order.”
This would be entirely different from the Old World Order, you see,
which it seemed was really no order at all but merely a system in which
nations took time-off between wars. The more advanced concept Mr. Bush
seemed to be referring to was not merely a pause between wars but the
ultimate, divine peace, when no man would raise his hand against
another.

What put Mr. Bush in such a utopian mood was the sudden disappearance
of our Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union. Without a belligerent Moscow,
it seemed, there was no one left to attack us and it would be a simple,
loving world.

But men have fought since the beginning of time — sometimes for
land, sometimes for gold, sometimes for glory. And, even if the Big
Five of the anti-bomb countries (U.S., Soviet Union, Britain, France,
China) did give up warlike behavior, even if Germany (which had been at
the center of quarrels that had started two world wars) were to retain
its present pacifistic behavior, wasn’t there anyone else to play the
villain? What’s more, wouldn’t the major powers fight over scraps if
they felt like it? And, what of the minor powers of Asia and Africa?
In recent months, Africa alone has seemed a hotbed of animosity.

In short, from the moment I got to thinking about President Bush’s
New World Order, I didn’t believe in it. I thought this New World Order
would never come. Meanwhile, here we were busy sweeping-up the remains
of the last war between enemy cultures: Israel and the Arabs. But, is
it more than a few weeks since Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak assured
us that a lasting peace had come to Israel’s northern border?

Yet, I wake up this morning to hear that the Palestine Liberation
Army (Shiah Muslims, who might be considered pro-Israel mercenaries),
has broken ranks and is fleeing across Israel’s northern border into
Syria by the thousands. What these pro-Israel mercenaries left behind,
meanwhile, is being seized by the Lebanese (a different kind of Muslim).
So this is the way our New World Order is shaping-up.

What’s orderly about that? I ask you. And, above all, what’s new
about it? Isn’t this the way the world has always been? Let me know if
you hear anything new.

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