It is no longer news that our current administration thinks the Soviet Union is the source of all evil. For almost two years we have been told that the Russians are responsible for insurgencies in Central America, that they have built a military machine superior to ours, and more recently, that they are manipulating the peace movements in Europe and the U.S. to serve their goal of Soviet world domination.
The Reagan administration's anti-Soviet offensive has had its setbacks, such as when it failed to prove Soviet involvement in El Salvador and when the NATO allies recently defied its sanctions against the Soviet pipeline project, but these defeats have been relatively superficial. What is astonishing is the extent to which Reagan has won support for the unprecedented military buildup that is the keystone of his anti-Soviet policies. Most Democratic opposition to that buildup has not questioned the assumption that we need to counter an immediate Soviet danger. Instead, the Democrats think that we should do it at less expense.
While the Reagan administration's approach to the Cold War is certainly more single-minded (and clumsy) than that of most recent presidents, it differs more in style than substance. It was, after all, the liberal Democrats Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson who initiated the Cold War, escalated it to the brink of nuclear disaster, and devastated the land of Vietnam.
Hostility to the Soviet Union has been a factor in U.S. politics since the Russian revolution in 1917. And since World War II, the chief tenet of American political orthodoxy has been that the conflict between free-enterprise capitalism and totalitarian communism is the central fact of the political universe: all policies, domestic or foreign, must grow out of the first priority--opposing communism.