Friday, September 22, 2006

The 'Long Telegram'

I've just been reading George Kennan's famous or infamous (by your choice of adjective shall we know your political orothodoxy) Long Telegram from Moscow in February 1946. I was struck by one particular paragraph. With a few changes, it could stand for a contemporary dispatch on Islamic fundamentalism. The boldfacing is mine:

In summary, we have here a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with US there can be no permanent modus vivendi[,] that it is desirable and necessary that the internal harmony of our society be disrupted, our traditional way of life be destroyed, the international authority of our state be broken, if Soviet power is to be secure. This political force has complete power of disposition over energies of one of world's greatest peoples and resources of world's richest national territory, and is borne along by deep and powerful currents of Russian nationalism. In addition, it has an elaborate and far flung apparatus for exertion of its influence in other countries, an apparatus of amazing flexibility and versatility, managed by people whose experience and skill in underground methods are presumably without parallel in history. Finally, it is seemingly inaccessible to considerations of reality in its basic reactions.... This is admittedly not a pleasant picture. Problem of how to cope with this force in [is?] undoubtedly greatest task our diplomacy has ever faced and probably greatest it will ever have to face.
As Howard Dean might say, Eee-yah!

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