President Joe Biden set the internet ablaze this week when he told a gathering of business leaders in Washington D.C. that “there’s going to be a new world order out there, and we’re going to lead it.”
Addressing the Business Roundtable’s CEO Quarterly Meeting, the president referred to the worldwide reaction after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and how we are at an “inflection point.” After a prepared speech which praised the corporate heads for efforts to reduce costs and spearheading diversity efforts, Biden apparently went off-script.
First stating the number of people killed by war in the first half of the 20th century, Biden then referenced the establishment of “a liberal world order” before predicting the “new world order” that is coming.
As the phrase “elections matter” has bounced around political circles in recent years, surely the president and his handlers know that words also matter. Throwing out a loaded phrase such as “new world order” is going to spark a visceral reaction in some quarters, and many will see it as confirmation of sweeping global conspiracies.
Referenced by Woodrow Wilson and repeated several times by Winston Churchill in the years following both world wars, “new world order” reawakened in 1990 as a catch-all for global conspiracy theorists. President George H.W. Bush made the term part of the vernacular when he used it in a speech entitled “Toward a New World Order.”
The first Bush president was referring to geopolitical changes following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it caught fire in those early internet days. Shortened to NWO, it is the belief that a shadowy global cabal of elites runs everything and is plotting to slice up the world into authoritarian-controlled pieces.
Since then, “new world order” has linked with anti-Semitic accusations of Jewish people taking over media, banks and governments. Some proponents believe that camps are already constructed in the U.S. to hold those who do not fall in line with the movement.
Last September an Australian health official in New South Wales used the phrase “new world order” during a COVID-19 update while referencing contract tracing. As expected, it became a gaffe heard ‘round the world.
It must be pointed out that, if there were such a thing as a “new world order” in the tin-foil hat sense, the president would not refer to it in a speech delivered to business leaders that was released as a transcript by the White House. After all, the real danger the U.S. faces from our current leadership is bad enough without adding imaginary ones to worry about.