Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Cold War on Terror

That the Cold War and the War on Terror are, in fact, different things is one of those annoying truisms that are used by commentators seeking to establish their intellectual subtlety without any need to really think. It rarely adds much to an analysis and is often used for lazy sniping at the Bush administration.

I can see some holes in this particular truism. The Cold War featured a confrontation over Israel and had its main ideological struggle in Europe. In these regards it mirrors the War on Terror. These similarities might prove more useful for further analysis than further noting the differences. After all, ideological defeat in Europe appears to me to have been crucial in demonstrating to the Soviets that they faced an enemy they could not defeat. One nation, no matter how powerful, always looks like a lonely enemy, vulnerable to its own demons. The ideological struggle in Europe might be important in this great confrontation as well: in demonstrating that the Islamists do not fight a single nation, the US, which can be bullied into withdrawing or conceding ground, but an idea of freedom which will not be abandoned.

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