Communism and Terrorism:
Parallel Threats to the West?

In the twentieth century United States leaders led the nation in a long struggle against communism. President Truman declared in 1947 that the United States was willing to assume any burden to lead the free world in its fight against communism. The enemy was an "ism."

Today as the United States is engaged in a struggle against a new "ism"-terrorism. Students who have completed the Shadowplay lesson may benefit from comparing and contrasting both struggles.

Begin this lesson with a class discussion of the quotations below.

  • What do these leaders mean?
  • Do their words put both sides at odds with each other?
  • Why does either side seem unwilling to believe it can co-exist with the other?

    "We are seeking to incite the (Islamic) nation to rise up to liberate its land and to (conduct) jihad (holy war) for the sake of God."- Osama Bin Laden, June 1999

    "Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."-President George W. Bush, September 2001

    Cold War
    "Every Communist must grasp the truth, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."-Mao Zedung

    "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."-President John F. Kennedy, January 1961

    Next, ask the students, in groups or as class, to identify similarities in the two eras. They should be able to use their knowledge of American and World History to find examples from the past; you may need to assist them with current events.

    Suggested topics:

    Civil Liberties-McCarthism and the fear of the enemy within.

    Foreign Policy-Alliances forged between United States and nation because they share a common enemy.