Monday, June 27, 2005

The Terrorist Plot

The terrorists' objectives are: to split the economic-political solidarity that exists between the U.S. and the E.U. by creating pro-Islamist governments. To promote the seizure of of U.S. investments, thus halting the flow of oil, stopping Middle Eastern development and paralyzing trade. To harass us with so many nearby alarms that we would not block terrorist moves in Asia and Africa. To cut us off from strategic supplies.

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.

4 Comments:

Blogger Hamlette said...

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8:46 AM  
Blogger Hamlette said...

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.

Would you say that the opposite is also true, that some of our enemies during the First Cold War are now our allies in the Second Cold War?

8:47 AM  
Blogger Noumenon said...

I still don't take terrorism seriously enough to draw the parallels. Sure, maybe our enemies in the last cold war are on our side now, but since the threat is so small and hard to fight, China and Russia won't be drawn as close as our last set of enemies turned friends, Germany and Japan. I actually don't think that you could write such a strong article about how terrorists have been outmaneuvering us with well-organized grand strategy. Yet the fear of the other, the fear of destruction, the fear of subversion seem to run as strong as ever.

I guessed you were up to something, O.D., but I thought the "terrorists" were going to turn out to be the French or something like that.

4:49 AM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

I thought the "terrorists" were going to turn out to be the French or something like that.

As Bucky Katt said, "You're going down like a French border gate!"

I still don't take terrorism seriously enough to draw the parallels.

On the other hand, it was a long time before we took communism seriously as an existential threat.

I don't, however, think there is a well-organized grand strategy. People have learned that well-organized grand strategies are organized, and organizations can be crushed. The looser the organization the better.

8:14 AM  

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