The Western counter to aggressive Soviet expansion, the Cold War, lasted from 1945-1991. That is 46 years. From 1945 WWII ally to international foe took about 2 years to accomplish. We spent trillions of dollars and lost troops by the tens of thousands in Korea and Vietnam. The US military, I was part of the force in Europe, was stationed all over the world to contain the Soviets. Our fleets roamed the high seas keeping the sea lanes open for freedom.
Finally, by internal and external deterioration brought on by US President Ronald Reagan, the Soviet Eastern European empire fell and then soon afterwards the Soviet Union itself. But it took almost 50 years. Are we in for the same ride, if not longer, with radical Islamists? Probably so, as Marxism, a cold and clammy ideology, never quite had the larger appeal of revealed religion. At least to the sane.
Just like the Soviets, not long before the current outbreak of hostilities, the Islamists were our allies against the Soviets in…Afghanistan. We supplied the 80s mujahadeen with weapons. They made Afghanistan the Soviet Vietnam. The Soviets pulled out in 1989. Four years later they tried to bomb the World Trade Center. They failed. Eleven years later, they did not. What had been the change since 1989?
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It wasn’t so much a change in enemy as a change in priorities. They used us in Afghanistan to expel the Soviets. We used them to give the Soviets a black eye. But throughout the period we were clashing with Islamists. In Beirut, in Tripoli, in Tehran, radical Islamists were not our friends and acted on their fanatic impulses. Afghanistan was the exception, not the rule. But it didn’t start recently.
The West has been in a Cold War with Islamist forces since the First Crusade to recover Christian lands in 1096. Through the battle of Tours in 732, the reconquest of Spain in 1492, the siege of Vienna 1529 and 1683, Lepanto in 1571, Khartoum in 1885, and other battles over the centuries the near eternal conflict has heated then cooled. Since the 19th century it has gone our way. The ensuing sense of inferiority to the West bit at the Islamic world hard. If you tie that to a new radical view of Islam that sees America as the “Great Satan” and their view of Israel as an illegitimate state, the seeds of the modern conflict become clear.
If we take the starting point of this modern iteration of this particular Cold War as the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, then we have been at frigid battle with the Islamists for 42 years, only 4 years less than our Cold War against the Soviets.
So this war has gone on more than 900 years in the general sense and over 40 years recently. It shows no signs of abating. In fact, with Afghanistan now in the hands of the Taliban and allied with Iran and the Iranian influenced Iraq, we now have an Islamist superstate in Near Asia. Which likely means our grandsons will send their sons to fight this never ending Cold War. Not a pretty prospect at all.