Whether the Cold War is back, it's an apt moment to strike up a wider conversation about a couple of central questions from my book "American Betrayal." Why did the West fail to claim an ideological or moral victory at the apparent end of the Cold War? Did the West really even win the Cold War?
If we go back in time and listen, we hear no consensus click over signs that an unalloyed U.S.-led triumph over communist ideology had taken place; nor do we find a sense of national thanksgiving for the forces of good -- or, at least, for the forces of better -- in their triumph over the forces of a non-abstract evil as manifested in Gulag or KGB or famine or purge history. "Mustn't gloat" was about as joyous as the White House of Bush No. 41 ever got.
Was the official non-reaction due to that "crisis of confidence" we always hear about -- specifically, that "politically correct" failure to believe in the worth of the West? I used to think exactly that and no more. The self-loathing West, failing to see anything of value in itself, was simply unable to take satisfaction, let alone pride, in the demise of its mass-murdering nemesis. "After all," the PC catechism goes, "Who's to say the Western system is 'better' than any other?"
But there is far more to it. At a certain point, it becomes clear that what we are looking at isn't a West that fails to appreciate itself anymore, but rather a West that isn't itself anymore. Decades of subversion by communist infiltrators and American traitors, collaborators and "useful idiots" have helped make sure of that. So, even if the military enemy went away after the dissolution of the USSR on Christmas Day 1991, our ideological enemy never even had to break step. Cold Warriors might have prevailed abroad, but America lost the ideological Cold War at home.
This helps explain why our college campuses are outposts of Marx, our centralizing government is increasingly invasive and dictatorial, and our culture is one of metastasizing decadence -- the amoral conditions of "The Communist Manifesto" made manifest.
Indeed, to be "anti-Western" today, as some have noted, is to stand in opposition to the West's rampant immorality, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointedly claims to do. This is why, as Masha Gessen recently wrote in The Washington Post, Russians look at events in Ukraine and think "the West is literally taking over, and only Russian troops can stand between the Slavic country's unsuspecting citizens and the homosexuals marching in from Brussels."
Meanwhile, the U.S. finds itself paying lip service to the Constitutional principles it is still somewhat nostalgically known for.