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Communism vs. Terrorism -- From the Eyes of Barry Goldwater
by Andy Obermann
28 January 2004Barry Goldwater

Barry Goldwater's thoughts regarding the former Soviet Empire and the Cold War draw a haunting parallel to the dominant issue of today—the War on Terror.


I always enjoyed history when I was in High School.  The interaction of people and the consequences thereof, played through my mind like a well-written story—a tale of our past and the direction of our future.  Many of my classmates, however, did not share in my love of the subject.  I will always remember our teacher, when asked of the purpose of learning history, explaining that, “It is important to know and understand the events of the past, because they will repeat themselves in the events of the future.”  Never has this fact been clearer to me than now.

The other day, I was finishing Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater.  The book is a detailed explanation of the conservative movement in the early 1960s, focusing on many major aspects of American life.  In the concluding chapter of the work, Goldwater outlines the vital elements in our struggle with communism.   He makes known his thoughts regarding the former Soviet Empire and the Cold War.  These words draw a haunting parallel to the dominant issue of today—the War on Terror.

Goldwater contended that we had to seek victory over our Soviet adversary.  He felt that without a strong determination to defeat the threat of global communism, we, as a nation, were doomed.  To Goldwater, peace would only be defined “when freedom and justice prevail…a peace in which Soviet power will no longer be in a position to threaten us and the rest of the world.”  In other words, peace could only be attained after a victory over Communists. 

Many left-wing activists are calling for a complete end to our work in Iraq.  They feel that the War on Terror has been a farce.  They seek an understanding of our adversary—instead of retaliation.  They want to understand what we did to deserve the attacks of 9/11.  They want to live in peace with our counterpart, without resorting to violence to solve our differences.  This mainly applies to the wide-array of know-it-all celebrities and their ilk, but is also present in some wings of our government.     

Many would say that understanding is the first step to overcoming the obstacles that lie before us and coming to this understanding in a peaceful way would prove most beneficial to all parties involved.  I would agree with this contention, if we were dealing with rational minded people.  You see, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 didn’t care whether you understood them or not.  They didn’t care what you thought of them.  The only thing they cared about was the number of Americans they would kill when those planes crashed.  To them you are the “Big Satan of the West,” and they don’t care if you seek peace or war, they want you dead.  The same could be said in Goldwater’s day.

According to Goldwater, America, up to that point, sought to establish peace with our enemy, while our enemy sought to dominate the world.  He explains, “We have ‘waged’ peace…while the Communists wage war.  We have sought ‘settlements,’ while Communists seek victories.  We have tried to pacify the world.  The Communist means to own it.”  This is the key to understanding the correlation to today’s situation.  We can’t come to a peace with those who don’t seek it.  We can’t come to settlements with those who won’t honor them.  And we can’t pacify the world while there are those who wish to bring it havoc. 

So, having negated the appeasement option, what choices do we have?  Well, Goldwater has several ideas that can be adapted and applied to the War on Terror.

1.) We must keep our primary objective in mind.  “Our goal is not to wage a struggle against communism, but to win it.”

2.) We must go on the offensive to defeat our enemy and end its rein of terror. “…we must always try to engage the enemy at times and places, and with weapons, of our own choosing.”

3.) We must always have the upper hand militarily.  The enemy may outnumber us, but our technology will defeat him. 

4.) We should only give aid to those countries that have a devout anti-terror stance, not negotiating with any nation that harbors our enemy.  “And we must insist, moreover, that such nations contribute their fair share to the common cause.”

5.) American leaders should denounce any government with ties to terror—outlawing them from the national scene as rogue states.  “We should withdraw diplomatic recognition from all Communist governments…thereby serving notice on the world that we regard such governments as neither legitimate nor permanent.”

6.) Finally, we must not be unwilling to wage war against countries that support, aid, or abet terrorists or their supporters.  It is our duty, as a result of 9/11, to end the scourge that global terrorism represents.  “On this level, we would invite Communist leaders to choose between total destruction of the Soviet Union, and accepting a local defeat.”

By the looks of things, it seems that our foreign policy is right on track.

Andy Obermann is majoring in History and Secondary Education at Missouri Valley College
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