Monday, October 15

Walter Lippmann gave the conflict its name - the Cold War - and a left-to-right spectrum from Henry Wallace to George Kennan to Robert Taft immediately warned that a protracted conflict against the communist conspiracy might draw the United States into unlimited commitments, Machiavellian ploys, and collusion with all manner of foul bedfellows. But the Congress and public stood up almost as one behind the Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, NATO, and the Korean War.

The second Cold War may also have crept up on us slowly. Leaving aside introspective domestic recriminations to the effect that America deserved the attack of September 11 (a matter best left to the purveyor of "infinite justice"), historians are certain to clash over questions of causality and blame. Did Americans' energy-guzzling habits, hence dependence on Persian Gulf oil and support for authoritarian Muslim regimes, create fertile soil for Islamic fanatics? Did American disengagement from Afghanistan following the expulsion of the Soviets permit the Taliban to seize power? Did American support for Israel and the 1991 war on Iraq validate in the bazaars an image of the United States as the Great Satan? Did the George H W Bush administration's display of irresistible military might but reluctance to finish off Saddam Hussein all but invite rogue states to wage asymmetrical warfare, including sponsorship of terrorist groups, to promote their agendas? Did the Clinton administration's penchant for poking, but not killing, t


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