by E. J. Dionne Jr.
"Mr. President, the only way you are ever going to get this is to
make a speech and scare the hell out of the country."
So said Sen. Arthur Vandenberg to President Harry Truman in 1947.
Vandenberg, a Republican, was giving Truman advice on how to get
Congress to vote for aid to help Turkey and Greece in their fight
against communist insurgents. But Vandenberg might as well have been
laying out rule number one in the Politics of the Cold War. From
1947 until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the country was
scared as hell about Soviet power and the threat of nuclear war. And
these fears dominated political life.
If Vandenberg's words have a familiar ring these days, it's because
the new Politics of Terrorism bear remarkable similarities to the
old Politics of the Cold War. Fear has once again become a powerful
tool and motivator.
[". . . President Bush has blessed the notion that U.S. nuclear
weapons can, and should, be adapted for use against a growing list
of enemy weapons in a widening array of circumstances."--Bruce G.
Blair, "We Keep Building Nukes For All the Wrong Reasons,"
Washington Post, May 25, 2003]