In 1992, Benjamin R. Barber published an article named Jihad Vs. McWorld. For those living in the 1990s, it was just a reflection on events occurring in the world of that time but reading it nowadays one can find that his idea of two political futures is prophetic.
In 1992, the author saw two possible futures for the world both putting an end to democracy and giving rise to anarchy. First was the retribalization of states in which every country is torn apart by wars – a Jihad against interdependence, social cooperation, and mutuality (Barber par. 1). And the second was to be characterized by integration and uniformity reinforced by the global market, ecology, economic interdependence, and technologies and mesmerized “with fast music, fast computers, and fast food – MTV, Macintosh, and McDonald’s … homogenous global network – McWorld” (Barber par. 1). The forces of both canonized Jihad and politically globalized McWorld were powerful, but they operated in different directions – “the one driven by parochial hatreds, the other by universalizing markets, the one re-creating ancient subnational and ethnic borders from within, the other making national borders porous from without” (Barber par. 2).
The only problem with both is that neither of them preached democracy. Jihad promoting “a vibrant local identity, a sense of community, [and] solidarity among kinsmen” (Barber par. 29) is often ruled by a military junta, i.e. becomes a dictatorship, while McWorld “guided by laissez-faire market principles that privilege efficiency, productivity, and beneficence at the expense of civic liberty and self-government” (Barber par. 30) has all chances of becoming anarchy.
The only way to live in peace and democracy seen by the author was to keep to the motto “Think globally, act locally” (Barber par. 40) that meant creating a confederal union of “semi-autonomous communities participatory and self-determining in local matters at the bottom, representative and accountable at the top” (Barber par. 40). He stated that the opposition of the two was often seen in one country or region but, unfortunately, did not consider the possibility that Jihad and McWorld would confront each other that can be traced in the U.S. history of the 1990s-early 2000s.
In 1993, the United States got the new President, William Jefferson Clinton, known as Bill Clinton, who realized that globalization is the most inescapable force in the world but it should be used to advance “democracy, shared prosperity and peace” (“The Clinton Presidency: A Foreign Policy for the Global Age” par. 1). In his foreign policy, he promoted free market and economic diplomacy, thus preaching the ideas of the McWorld. Under Clinton’s presidency, the U.S. troops conducted military operations in Bosnia and Kosovo aimed at stopping ethnic cleansing (“The Clinton Presidency: A Foreign Policy for the Global Age” par. 4-5) and many other regions.
He was the one who in 1996 established a national anti-terrorism strategy under which he brought to justice those responsible for the 1993 North Tower of the World Trade Center bombings and 1993 CIA killings. Moreover, Clinton thought that the U.S. security depended on “the protection and expansion of democracy worldwide, without which repression, corruption, and instability could engulf a number of countries and threaten the stability of entire regions” (“A National Security Strategy for a Global Age” 45). It was undoubtedly of great significance but by doing so he started the confrontation with the Jihad ideas because the counter-terrorism strategy was focusing on Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
Clinton’s presidency ended in 2001, and the new U.S. president, George W. Bush, took an office. His foreign policy very little differed from his predecessor’s policy and he thought that the U.S. should promote further expansion of democracy throughout the world. Soon after Bush became a president, the United States witnessed one of the greatest tragedies in its history – the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers, the World Trade Center claiming almost 3,000 lives. After the terrorist attack, the policy of democratization was emphasized to be of even more significance.
Bush’s foreign policy had its roots in the theory of democratic peace under which democracies do not attack other democracies so in the case of global democratization the world would live in total peace (Doyle 226). Nine days after the attacks, on September 20, 2001, President Bush delivered a speech that became a declaration of war against Afghanistan, namely Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, who took responsibility for the terrorist attacks. He would not give up until establishing democracy in Afghanistan, and then went on to democratizing Iraq, but that is a whole new story.
So, what is significant about the presidency of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush is that they positioned themselves as the bearers of international liberalism and democracy that had to result in peace all over the globe but the history has shown that it was not true and all that their policy has led to was suffering and bloodshed in different corners of the world and continuous conflicts between what Benjamin Barber called Jihad and McWorld.
Barber, Benjamin R. Jihad Vs. McWorld. 1992. Web.
The Clinton Presidency: A Foreign Policy for the Global Age. n.d. Web.
Doyle, Michael. “Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 12.3 (1983): 205-235. Print.
A National Security Strategy for a Global Age. 2000. PDF File. Web.