‘Liberal World Order’ Is Decades-Old Term Misinterpreted by Social Media Posts

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Quick Take  

“Liberal world order” is a decades-old term referring to a system of global cooperation. A Biden administration adviser used the term to explain why gasoline prices are tied to the war in Ukraine. But social media posts use the adviser’s comments to misleadingly claim Biden is pushing a “new liberal world order” to make Americans pay “high gas prices forever.”


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The term “liberal world order,” also referred to as the “liberal international order,” has been in use since at least the end of World War II when “countries sought to ensure the world never again devolved into such horrific violence,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

“World leaders created a series of international organizations and agreements to promote global cooperation on issues including security, trade, health, and monetary policy,” CFR writes. “The United States has championed this system — known as the liberal world order — for the past seventy-five years. During this time, the world has enjoyed unprecedented peace and prosperity.”

During a news conference at the close of the NATO summit on June 30 in Madrid, a reporter asked President Joe Biden “how long is it fair to expect American drivers and drivers around the world” to pay high gasoline prices due to the war in Ukraine. Biden responded, “[a]s long it takes so Russia cannot, in fact, defeat Ukraine and move beyond Ukraine.”

Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, appeared in an interview with CNN’s Victor Blackwell that same day.

Blackwell played a video of Biden’s comments from the NATO news conference. He asked Deese what he would say to American families who can’t afford high gasoline prices for months or even years to come if the war in Ukraine were to last as long as some experts predict. In response, Deese used the term “liberal world order.” 

Deese, June 30: Well, what’s heard from the president today was a clear articulation of the stakes. This is about the future of the liberal world order and we have to stand firm. But at the same time what I’d say to that family and to Americans across the country is you have a present administration that is going to do everything in its power to blunt those price increases and bring those prices down.

Deese appeared to use the decades-old terminology to describe the international world order that was created after World War II, and the current unified effort to prevent Russia from moving beyond Ukraine. 

But posts on social media shared a brief clip of Deese’s exchange with Blackwell and misleadingly claimed the Biden administration is making Americans pay high gasoline prices to push the “liberal world order,” insinuating that the term relates to American politics.

Jimmy Dore, who is a frequent spreader of misinformation and host of the Jimmy Dore Show, produced a show segment with the headline “High Gas Prices FOREVER Says Biden” that covered Deese’s comment.  

“Right now we’re going to tell you about the new liberal world order,” Dore says before showing an edited clip of the Deese interview. “You think I’m kidding? Here’s a guy from the Biden administration, and he’s going to tell you that you’re gonna have to keep paying high gas prices forever. Why? Cause a new world liberal – what, you think I’m kidding?”

Dore never explained the definition of the term — or that it’s not, as he described it, “new.” The video has received more than 100,000 views on YouTube and 19,000 views on Facebook

Others, including Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, also shared the claim that the Biden administration is making Americans pay high gas prices to push the “liberal world order” without providing any context. 

“The White House openly stated that you’re just going to have to pay more in gas so that they can hold the ‘liberal world order’ together and it barely registers as breaking news,” Boebert tweeted. “They’re telling you EVERYTHING they plan to do and most don’t even care.”

In a blog post, which carried the headline, “The Biden Administration Pushes ‘Liberal World Order,’” the American Center for Law and Justice said: “Liberal world order? Are they serious? Of course, the first question is, what does that even mean?”

A frustrated Democrat, Rep. Ruben Gallego, retweeted a link critical of Deese’s interview and wrote, “Democracy just say Democracy, we are helping defend a Democratic country. Stop talking to Americans as if they read Foreign Policy magazine.” Gallego added a facepalm emoji.

The term has been used by Biden on at least two occasions as president, but it also has been referenced by Republican presidents.

Some drop the word “liberal” and just say “world order,” as former President Richard Nixon did in 1969 in a message to Congress about foreign aid. “U.S. assistance is essential to express and achieve our national goals in the international community — a world order of peace and justice,” Nixon said.

At the end of the Cold War, President George H. W. Bush spoke of what he called a “new world order,” which “involved collective security with multinational cooperation” by breaking down “Cold War conceptions” and creating “new allies,” as Stephen Knott, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, explained in an article for the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.

In a speech to Congress after the U.S. victory in the first Gulf War, Bush spoke of a “new world order,” quoting the late Winston Churchill, prime minister of the United Kingdom during World War II.

“Now, we can see a new world coming into view. A world in which there is the very real prospect of a new world order,” Bush said. “In the words of Winston Churchill, a world order in which ‘the principles of justice and fair play protect the weak against the strong. . . .’ A world where the United Nations, freed from Cold War stalemate, is poised to fulfill the historic vision of its founders.”

An April 2020 paper titled “The Rise of the Liberal World Order,” written by Samantha A. Taylor for the U.S. Army War College website, explained how the rise of the United States is tied to the creation of the liberal world order.

“[T]he rise of the liberal world order is connected to the rise of the United States in the international system. This development occurred in three phases. The first phase occurred between 1917 and 1945, during which the United States emerged as a world power,” wrote Taylor, a visiting professor at the college. “The second phase from 1945 to 1991 occurred as the United States stood as one of two superpowers. The third phase began in 1991 and continues to today, where the United States stands as the world’s sole superpower and supporter of the liberal world order.”

But that context is ignored in social media posts that misleadingly suggest Biden is pushing a “new liberal world order” to make Americans pay “high gas prices forever.”

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

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Bush, George. “Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the Cessation of the Persian Gulf Conflict.” The American Presidency Project. 6 Mar 1991. 

Boebert, Lauren (@laurenboebert). “The White House openly stated that you’re just going to have to pay more in gas so that they can hold the ‘liberal world order’ together and it barely registers as breaking news. They’re telling you EVERYTHING they plan to do and most don’t even care. WAKE UP!” Twitter. 1 Jul 2022. 

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Ikenberry, G. John. “The Future of the Liberal World Order.” Princeton.edu. Accessed 6 Jul 2022. 

Knott, Stephen. “GEORGE H. W. BUSH: FOREIGN AFFAIRS.” Accessed 6 Jul 2022. 

Kundnani, Hans. “What is the Liberal International Order?” German Marshall Fund. 3 May 2017. 

Mo, Jiachen. “Why are Gas Prices Surging Around the World?” 16 Mar 2022.

Nixon, Richard. “Special Message to the Congress on Foreign Aid.” The American Presidency Project. 28 May 1969.

Sands, Leo. “Ukraine war could last for years, warns Nato chief.” BBC News. 19 Jun 2022.

Sekulow, Logan. “The Biden Administration Pushes ‘Liberal World Order’.” American Center for Law and Justice. 1 Jul 2022. 

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What Is the Liberal World Order?Council on Foreign Relations. Accessed 8 Jun 2022.

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