Metastasizing organized crime, massive tax evasion, unregulated sales of missiles--the people of Russia and the world now have more to fear from the breakdown of the Russian state than from its power. Why liberty itself depends on competent government.
For half a century, the Soviet Union was not only our principal
military adversary. It was also our ideological and moral "other."
Both left and right in America defended their competing visions
of a liberal society in reaction to the Stalinist nightmare. In
this sense, the Cold War profoundly shaped our public philosophy.
Indeed, we might say that the Cold War was our public philosophy.
The demanding contest with Soviet communism guided how we thought
about the core principles underlying our basic institutions. For
liberalism was, or appeared to be, totalitarianism turned inside
As the fog lifts from the September 11 attacks, the FBI and CIA are presumably honing in on the identity and aims of the people behind the plot. An organizational explanation focused on conspiratorial networks will be easier for us to accept than a broader sociological one, since anyone who draws attention to the "root causes" of anti-American hostility in the Islamic world risks sounding like an apologist for the terrorists.
The terrorists who attacked New York and Washington on September 11th were not trying to make a point. They were trying to provoke a foolish reaction. They hoped to lure the United States into the kind of poorly targeted retaliation that would destabilize our allies in the Islamic world and recruit more foot soldiers into the campaign to "free" the holy lands. Our response will be successful only if we avoid the trap they have cruelly laid.
Liberalism looms prominent in contemporary debates -- in this journal and elsewhere. But the term, however ubiquitous, remains elusive. By some, it is treated with cruel derision; by others, with breathtaking sanctimoniousness. A few writers, such as Alasdair MacIntyre or Christopher Lasch, finger liberalism as the source of all our miseries; others, such as Milton Friedman, preach that our most painful problems would be solved if we returned to liberalism in a pure and uncorrupted form. Some argue that the United States is a radiant monument to the liberal ideas of its Founders. Others retort that our society has evolved in unexpected ways and that stale eighteenth-century principles have become largely irrelevant to twentieth-century problems. Such postures are exhilarating.