Date of Award/Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in International Studies


International Studies


The purpose of my paper is to provide an explanation of the United States' Cold War mentality and its effects with the result being the adoption of the Manichean way or a bipolar world-view. In, addition I intend to make a connection between the bipolar world of the Cold War and the current War on Terror. During the Cold War, U.S. policy-makers saw the world as a contest of "good" versus "evil", in other words democracy versus communist totalitarianism. Paradoxically, the definition of the conflict being one of "good" versus "evil" provided U.S. policy-makers with an excuse to use any means necessary to overthrow what they considered to be communist totalitarian regimes. This included a crackdown on dissent at home. In addition, the United States supported anti-democratic regimes abroad as long as they were anti-communist. It was in this way that policy-makers undermined the very principles on behalf of which they claimed to be fighting. As a result of these foreign policy decisions came a backlash against U.S. support for anti-democratic forces. This came in the form of the Iranian revolution of 1979, where the United States became the "Great Satan." In addition, a third force, political Islamist fundamentalism, was emerging in international affairs. Unfortunately United States policy makers, blinded by the Cold war mentality, were unable to read it. This new force of Islamist fundamentalism was inadvertently fueled by the united States. An example can be seen in the form of Ronald Reagan's support for what United States policy-makers called Afghan "freedom fighters" in the 1980's. United States' Cold War policy against communist takeover helped the Taliban to take power in Afghanistan. Therefore the connection that can be made that the Cold War mentality of the United States and the bipolar world-view had serious effects on the current stage of international affairs. Islamist political violence became and has remained, a serious threat to U.S. residents. United States policy-makers have again adopted, or perhaps never overcome the bipolar world-view. Islamic terrorism has replaced communism in the eyes of policy makers as the new incarnation of evil. In addition, there has been a similar crackdown on dissent at home and an overly simplistic approach to foreign policy.

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