June 12, 2004

Reagan's External Enemies and Making Common Cause

Brad DeLong provides commentary and an interesting timeline about Reagan's optimistic belief that the world would unite in common cause if there was an external threat from outerspace. As DeLong says, this Reagan wanted to see a more peaceful world.

The Cold Warriors thought that they had a man who hated Communism and was eager for an expensive and bloody crusade against the Evil Empire. And they did. But there was also another Reagan roaming around inside Ronald's head: A Reagan who wanted SDI not to gain the U.S. an advantage in the Cold War but to protect people against the horrors of death-by-nuke--and who sincerely wanted to give SDI technology away for free to all nations so that no one would have to fear nuclear destruction. A Reagan who genuinely hoped to eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the earth. A Reagan who thought that the movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still" carried a powerful message about how small were the differences that divided the world's nations when seen from the right point of view. A Reagan who was definitely willing and eager to give peace--and Gorbachev--a chance.

It is not surprising that when the neocons picked their next potempkin president, they made sure not to get one that was quite so idealistic. In fact, they picked one who would have no problem in taking an opportunity for uniting for common cause and using it to stomp on their opposition. 9/11 was a time when the US (and most of the world) was ready to unit solidly to face the common enemy of terrorism, yet this President and this administration did everything they could to opportunistically smash the Democrats and the US allies in their obscene grab for power.

Ursula K LeGuin's Lathe of Heaven is an cautionary tale exploring the wistful thought that humans could somehow use external enemies to put aside their internal demons. Perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised that fear of the enemy isn't inclined to bring out the best in people.

Posted by Mary at June 12, 2004 11:34 PM | Philosophy | Technorati links |

Another good exploration of this subject is Orson Scott Card's Ender series . The defense against the external enemy resulted an alliance that was full of mistrust and plans within plans to take over once the enemy was defeated.

Posted by: Ron In Portland at June 13, 2004 03:09 AM