Author, "Dangerous Nation"
Tuesday, October 31, 2006; 3:00 PM
Lagos, Nigeria.: Was America not safer during the Cold War than during this current War on Terror?
Author of the "Scarlet Tears of London".
Robert Kagan: That's an interesting question, and not so easy to answer. Obviously, we did not suffer the kind of attack that we suffered on 9/11. And we certainly seem to be vulnerable to other such attacks in the future, and perhaps on an even more horrific scale. When we look back on the Cold War, it seems to have been safer, but that's partly because we now know that nothing horrendous happened. At the time, however, there were often significant fears of nuclear war. Needless to say, the damage that would have come had there been a nuclear exchange between the US and the Soviet Union would have dwarfed what we have experienced in the 21st century. In the early 1960s, I recall, people were building fall-out shelters in their backyards. It now appears as if, precisely because of the possibility of planet-wide destruction, both sides were deterred from conflict. What is so frightening about our present situation is that those who wish us harm seem to be undeterrable.
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