Saturday, January 09, 2010

Reagan and the War on Terror

I am reading Mann's book on the end of the cold war. The thing that is really fascinating is the split between Reagan and the conservatives in the second term and Mann's description of the philosophical difference between Reagan and Nixon. Nixon viewed the cold war as permanent and a contest between two stable players. Reagan viewed it as a contest of ideas which would be won when the guys with the bad set of ideas (the Soviets) changed their ideas. Reagan's optimism that our system was universal and that he could convince the other side that they were wrong was the key underlying difference between them. For Reagan the other side was under the influence of evil ideas but that could be saved and could be reasoned with once they were convinced that they could not get what they wanted by force. I think this is similar to the disagreement that we are having about the War with the Islamist Radicals. The Realists want to write off the enemy's part of the world. They are just that way. There is nothing that can be done about them. They cannot change. All you can do is build a good fence with clear rules about which side is which. The NeoCons and Bush believe that the Islamic world can be brought to democracy. They are under the influence of evil ideas but once they are freed from those who would impose their ideas by force they will come around.

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