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3.28.2004

Kissinger, the Cold War and al-Quaeda

This is taken from Henry Kissinger's 1957 book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, Chapter 10 in which he begins with the question "What is a Revolutionary?"

Time and again states appear which boldly proclaim that their purpose is to destroy the existing structure and to recast it completely. And time and again, the powers that are the declared victims stand by indifferent or inactive, while the balance of power is overturned. Indeed, they tend to explain away the efforts of the revolutionary power to upset the equilibrium as the expression of limited aims or specific grievances until they discover--sometimes too late and always at excessive cost--that the revolutionary power was perfectly sincere all along, that its call for a new order expressed its real aspirations. So it was when the French Revolution burst on an unbelieving Europe and when Hitler challenged the system of Versailles. So it has been with the relations of the rest of the world toward the Soviet bloc.

How was it possible that from positions of extreme weakness these powers could emerge as the most powerful states of Europe and that the most recent of these challeges, the U.S.S.R., can bid for the domination of the world less than a generation after a group of die-hards were trying to hold Moscow against enemies converging from all sides?

from Ch. 10, "The Strategy of Ambiguity--Sino-Soviet Strategic Thought"

I reference this quote as a potential analog to actions by al-Quaeda to generate this question: Is it possible that al-Quaeda could itself join the list of the French Revolutionaries, the Bolsheviks, the Nazis, the Chinese Communists, the Iranian Revolutionaries as marginal revolutionary or terrorist groups who were able to take over state? Or is al-Quaeda unlikely to join these examples since, unlike the French, Soviets or Chinese, it began to attack foreign nations prior to its having established itself as a governing power in a state? (I use the term "state" instead of "nation-state" since al-Quaeda while primarily Arabic may further expand and attract other groups that despite the use of Arabic in the Qu'oran do not share traditional Arab language and culture.)
-S. Schudy
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