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Diplomacy Now Revolves Around Terrorism
An Essay by NPR's Daniel Schorr

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Daniel Schorr
Daniel Schorr

Oct. 1, 2001 -- For most of the 20th century, nations lined along the communism/anti-communism divide. The World War II alliance with Stalin proved to be only an interlude between chapters in the Cold War.

America worked at toppling leftist leaders in Latin America, supported military dictatorships from Indonesia to the Congo and fought a war in Vietnam in the name of resisting the spread of communism. Democracy and human rights took a back seat as the Reagan administration proclaimed support of moderately repressive anti-Communist regimes.

The collapse of the Soviet empire a decade ago left both this country and its former antagonists without an easy rallying cry. Russia and China displayed skepticism about the American bid to fashion an international community around free enterprise and democracy. September 11th brought a profound change of perspective.

"Uniting against terrorism is becoming the watch word of American policy in the way that uniting against communism once was."

Daniel Schorr

In his address to Congress, President Bush denounced the terrorists who followed a path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. He significantly omitted mentioning communism, which might have alienated China. He may also have had in mind five former Soviet republics in Central Asia whose cooperation he needs and which are governed by reprocessed Communist Party bosses.

President Vladimir Putin has indicated his willingness to join an alliance with America that is no longer giving him a hard time about Chechnya. We may see a Russia finally willing to ally itself with the West.

Amid fears of further acts of terrorism, the United Nations is becoming truly united in a way that seldom, if ever, happens. The Bush administration is exploring cooperation with former pariah state Iran, which happens to oppose the Taliban. Sanctions against Pakistan and India, because of their nuclear programs, have been dropped.

Uniting against terrorism is becoming the watch word of American policy in the way that uniting against communism once was.

Daniel Schorr is a senior news analyst for NPR.