Almost eleven years ago, the United States finally came out of a political stalemate that dominated foreign affairs throughout the second half of the twentieth century. The Red Scare, the doctrine of containment, the involvement in Korea and Vietnam, as well as Cuban Missile Crisis, were all consequences of the tensions between the conflicting ideologies of Western Democracy and Eastern Communism.
Today, the nation is experiencing similar events.
First, it must be acknowledged that there is a current clash of cultural ideologies between the East (particularly the Middle East) and the West. This can be seen through the clear anti-American sentiments of the institution in power—such as Al-Qaeda or the Taliban—as well as, on a populous level, the outbreak of riots on Western establishments following this past September 11, 2012. This is not to say that we are fighting against the religion of Islam, but rather that we are fighting against the extremist ideology that reigns supreme in the teachings of groups such as al Qaeda. While it is unlikely that the nation will experience anything close to the Cuban Missile Crises with the Middle East, it is still interesting how tensions are beginning to arise around Iranian Nuclear Capability and how it might act as a catalyst among the nuclear armament of surrounding countries such as Turkey.
Similar to the Soviet Union, the Middle East has an enthusiasm for expansion of ideology; the cost they are willing to pay for this expansion is what has brought the United States into Wars. When analyzed, the parallels between the War in the Middle East and the Wars in Korea and Vietnam are astronomical. A philosophical belief that the United States needs to protect the institution of Democracy and protect foreign people from regimes deemed dangerous and oppressive serves as an underlying theme which transcends the immediate context of the enemy and the place, tying these events together.
There are, however, a few ways that the current conflict greatly differs from that of the Cold War. Communism was supported mainly by those in power, the people within those nations were waiting to tear down walls and gain their freedom; today, the masses within these nations are violent not against their own government, but against ours. American politicians seem to be so wrapped up in remaining politically correct that they have blatantly ignored the ideological war up until these riots began.
In order to successfully guide our way through the tangles of foreign affairs there are a couple of things that the United States must learn to do. A new generation is coming to power, one that seems to have forgotten the nations recent history. First, we need to re-examine history and draw conclusions about the way the Cold War was dealt with. Secondly, we must acknowledge that we are in an ideological war and we need to take it as seriously as we did the war against communism.