The Terrorist Plot
The plan picked soft spots--embassies, business districts, nightclubs--but did not contemplate turning authoritarian governments to theocracies overnight. It counted on subtle conversion: aggravating the discontent of underpaid workers and teachers, winning peasants with "oil for the masses," supporting nationalist demands for the expulsion of foreign interests, then uniting such elements in an "Arab Street" in which the terrorists would be the guiding influence.
Until the Islamist grip was tight it was vital to have non-Islamist governments of men who were ambitious, venal, and stupid enough to play the terrorist game in excahnge for wealth and pride of office. This formula is at work in at least four countries. Its partial success would mean an all-American disaster.
The previous three paragraphs are an excerpt from Scully, Michael. "The Inside Story of the Kremlin's Plot in Guatemala." Reader's Digest. February 1955. 73-78., with the names, places, etc., changed to reflect current geopolitical realities. The point is to illustrate that we are witnessing the dawn of the Second Cold War. Those paragraphs could have been written today (though I would expect their tone to be much more shrill), just as I have edited them. We are hearing the same rhetoric today as we heard in the fifties, the same fear of a faceless other, the fear of destruction through terrorism or nuclear war, the fear of subversion by an ideologically motivated and unconvertible foe, the same fear of traitors in our ranks, the same lack of understanding of how someone could hate us, lovable as we are. I will not say that history repeats itself--circumstances, players, technology change so rapidly as to make any comparison vague and emotional. I will, however, say that history is the cause of the present. The "friends" we made during the First Cold War, the regimes we supported for the sole reason that they were not communist, have given birth to the enemies of the Second Cold War. The ghosts of our mistakes have risen to haunt us. And so we ask ourselves the same questions: are we patriotic enough, is the war winnable, should we even be fighting, at what price victory, how can we fight the enemy without using the tools of the enemy--and if we do, how are we different from the enemy? Our moral clarity, the clarity of the oft-cited "End of History," has been shattered, just as our moral clarity was shattered in the wake of World War II. Yet there is hope. There is hope in freedom.