Question: Does America always need an enemy?
Derek Chollet: Well, it is something that has been pointed out often in our history. You remember it was Dean Atcheson who was Harry Truman’s Secretary of State who said, “We need to make the case against communism clearer than the truth. We’ve got to scare the hell out of the American people to motivate and there is the sense that because our system is so, what’s the word I’m looking for? Not diverse. Dispersed. Because power in the American system is so dispersed that you need to sort of rally people up to get everything to be working together. I think that might be true but it’s often overdone. Clearly fear and the sense of threat is used as a way to ram through things that may be unrelated to that fear of threat and I think are ultimately damaging. What’s interesting, and we saw this really with conservatism in the 1990s, is that conservatives in the early-to-mid ‘90s were not really embracing a sense of threat.
Recorded on: 07/08/2008