Why War on Terror Is Scarier Than Cold War

By:  Rachel Marsden

For half a century, the Cold War and the fight against communism had us in its grip. But despite the persistent threat of nuclear war with the Soviet bloc, the sense of fear wasn't nearly as pervasive and relentless as it is now with the war on terrorism.

Even as children performed "duck and cover" drills at school and the world was catching its breath after the Cuban Missile Crisis, people sat in movie theatres laughing at actor Slim Pickens' character riding the H-bomb down to global destruction in Stanley Kubrick's movie, Dr. Strangelove.

Our enemy today isn't big on comedy, and can be as hypersensitive as an Oprah show audience. Some Danish cartoonists tried to lighten things up, but now they're in hiding and fearing for their lives.

Here are some other reasons the war on terrorism is scarier than the Cold War:

* During the communist threat, we could take comfort in the fact that authorities had a pretty good idea where the communists were: Russia (and Hollywood). In this new war, the threat comes from Muslim extremists. So naturally, our authorities are focused on confiscating prune juice from little old ladies at airport security. That would be great if there was any evidence the Golden Girls were plotting to blow up planes.

* We knew we won the Cold War when Russia's economy collapsed along with the Berlin Wall. Today, we can't measure success because the media only gives us two numbers in the daily play-by-play: Western "military" deaths and Mideastern "civilian" deaths. One has to assume "civilians," includes "terrorist scumbags" because I don't see that team anywhere else on the media scoreboard.

* During the Cold War, you didn't have to take the guy wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt on the subway seriously. The people worth worrying about typically wore uniforms and at least had some sense of decorum. In the terror war, it's tough to distinguish a flake from a threat.

* Consider British terror suspect Donald Stewart-Whyte, a 21-year old Muslim convert described by his ex-girlfriend as someone who "used to smoke 20 a day, usually roll-ups. And he liked a bit of weed and loved drinking Stella." In the Cold War era, brain cells are about the only things a kid like this would have destroyed. Now a Daily Telegraph report describes British universities as prime recruiting grounds for terrorists. I guess being a communist at university isn't original enough anymore.

* U.S. President John F. Kennedy wasn't contemplating the communist threat in Cuba and thinking, "It's hot down there. I wonder if it's hotter in Havana than it was a thousand years ago?" Today's liberals say there's no connection between 9/11 and Iraq, but they have no problem connecting global annihilation to the guy who drives his SUV to work every day. If liberals were in a plane blown up by Muslim radicals, I wonder if their last thought would be, "Oh no! All this burning jet fuel is releasing an excess of aromatic hydrocarbons into the earth's atmosphere!"

Despite all the reasons for white-knuckling this war, for our sanity's sake, we can always make like the erratic driver who was recently pulled over by my police officer friend. Pointing to the steering wheel, he shrugged, "I can't control that thing!" -- then got right back on the road and kept on going.