Rethinking Global Security: Media, Popular Culture, and the "War on Terror"

By Andrew Martin; Patrice Petro | Go to book overview

COLD WAR REDUX

ROBERT RICIGLIANO AND MIKE ALLEN

The current the war on terrorism, as elaborated in the 2002 U.S. National Security Strategy and in security policies evident in the PATRIOT Act, the treatment of detainees in Cuba, and the war in Iraq, bears a striking resemblance to the ideology that underpinned the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The parallels are understandable, given that many of the actors in the George W. Bush administration (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, etc.) were participants in that struggle. Fears of global annihilation spread with the traumatic dawning of the nuclear age, and they spawned a cold-war ideology that provided what seemed to be a clear picture of the threat to the United States: the Soviet Union, weapons of mass destruction, and the spread of Communism. The threat was not just to the physical safety of the United States (the threat of nuclear attack), but to the ideals upon which the United States was built—freedom, democracy, and free enterprise.

Countering the Soviet threat became the preeminent goal of the United States and led to a clear set of policy responses. The U.S. position was that the Soviet Union should be contained (the containment doctrine was elaborated in 1947 by George F. Kennan in the “X” article in Foreign Affairs) and that any expansion of Soviet influence should be countered aggressively to reduce Soviet expansion (e.g., conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Eastern Europe, etc.).1 The origination and continuation of various organizations (e.g., North Atlantic Treaty Organization, South East Asian Treaty Organization) were predicated on the United States' developing counterorganizations to contain the Soviet threat. The main question about a foreign relationship was whether such a policy worked to promote U.S. interests in stopping Communism. In response to regional conflicts or

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