"a triumph for the idea of freedom and democracy" Posted by: Jon Henke
on Monday, December 19, 2005
The War on Terror has often been compared to other various historical conflicts—e.g., the Barbary Coast War, WWII, Vietnam, etc—with varying degrees of accuracy. It's also been compared, in terms of geopolitical strategy, length and scope, to the Cold War.
Interestingly, the War on Terror is being waged on some of the same grounds—the superiority of democracy and of our values—on which we waged the Cold War.
All these years later, it's easy to forget the fundamental rationale for our policies during the Cold War, but—as we go into another major, potentially generation-long struggle against a competing value system—we ought to recall some of the defining principles of our previous victory. They are best encapsulated in two seminal documents from the beginning of the Cold War.
NSC-68 laid out the National Security Strategy and ideology of the United States going into the Cold War...
Thus we must make ourselves strong, both in the way in which we affirm our values in the conduct of our national life, and in the development of our military and economic strength.
We must lead in building a successfully functioning political and economic system in the free world. It is only by practical affirmation, abroad as well as at home, of our essential values, that we can preserve our own integrity, in which lies the real frustration of the Kremlin design. ...
In a shrinking world, which now faces the threat of atomic warfare, it is not an adequate objective merely to seek to check the Kremlin design, for the absence of order among nations is becoming less and less tolerable. This fact imposes on us, in our own interests, the responsibility of world leadership. It demands that we make the attempt, and accept the risks inherent in it, to bring about order and justice by means consistent with the principles of freedom and democracy.
Finally we must have courage and self-confidence to cling to our own methods and conceptions of human society. [After all], the greatest danger that can befall us in coping with this problem of Soviet communism, is that we shall allow ourselves to become like those with whom we are coping.
I think the Cold War/War on Terror analogy is quite valid, both are defensive strategies.
1 - Thus we must make ourselves strong, both in the way in which we affirm our values in the conduct of our national life, and in the development of our military and economic strength.
2 - We must lead in building a successfully functioning political and economic system in the free world. It is only by practical affirmation, abroad as well as at home, of our essential values, that we can preserve our own integrity, in which lies the real frustration of the Kremlin design. ...
Those two points of defensive strategy were forced upon the USA by the parity of American/Russian forces. An aggressive strategy could have decided the outcome of the Cold War much quicker, but would have likely destroyed both countries.
A semi-defensive posture has been devoloped in this War on Terror that is similar to the Cold War - the USA does not attack the theocracies of Iran and Saudi directly, just like it did not attack Russia or China. The current enemy is mostly harmless (completely unarmed compared to the USSR) and so could be crushed easily, but why bother? The Cold War strategy worked (in the end) and when economic hardship becomes unbearable & an educated class forms in Saudi & Iran those regimes the strategy will work again (when the oil runs out...in 2070).