In the two years since last Sept. 11, 2001, the war against terror has often been compared with the Cold War. As with all historical analogies, this one is only partially applicable.
The Cold War was a battle of ideas competing for world dominance. On every continent, communist and democratic states vied for the hearts and minds of the people -- with each new country seized by the communists becoming for a time the stage upon which the drama of communism versus freedom was played out for a world audience.
Still, in one way, the resemblance is undeniable, and that is in the role played by liberals and Democrats. Throughout the second half of the Cold War -- roughly from 1967 to 1991, liberals found fault with every American exertion against the communist world. What began in Vietnam continued through the 1970s and '80s with support for arms control at any price, benevolence toward the communist guerillas in El Salvador and the communist government in Nicaragua, discomfort with arming the anti-communist Mujahadeen in Afghanistan (please don't write and say we armed Osama bin Laden because it just isn't true) and the Contras in Nicaragua, and an almost pathological distrust of the United States military.
Throughout the latter half of the Cold War, liberals discounted the dangers posed by our enemies and persisted in the belief that American power, not the communist threat, posed the greatest danger to world peace.
Today, many -- though by no means all -- Democrats are sliding on their old, comfortable foreign policy shoes. Many of the Democratic candidates for president have chosen to attack President Bush for devoting too little attention to homeland security. They argue that our ports stand virtually unmonitored. President Bush should welcome this argument.
In the first place, he has reconfigured a big chunk of the federal government to accommodate homeland security. But second, if the Democrats want to argue that the best response to 9-11 is better port inspection and radiation detectors at airports, that's fine. In his speech Sunday night, the President reiterated what he has said many times since 9-11. We are fighting with our soldiers and Marines there so that we will not have to fight with our police, firemen and doctors here.
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