Yet the sickness has probably spread far beyond Europe. Addressing a gathering of the USIA Alumni Association in Washington D.C. on October 4, former U.S. Ambassador to China and Saudi Arabia Chas. W. Freeman told the assembled audience that
the threat the United States now faces is vastly less grave but much more ill-defined than that we faced during the Cold War. That era, which most here lived through, was one in which decisions by our president and his Soviet counterpart could result in the death, within hours, of over a hundred million Americans and a comparable number of Soviet citizens. That threat was existential. The threat we now face is not. Muslim extremists seek to drive us from their lands by hurting us. They neither seek to destroy nor to convert nor to conquer us. They can in fact do none of these things. The threat we now face does not in any way justify the sacrifice of the civil liberties and related values we defended against the far greater threats posed by fascism or Soviet communism. Terrorists win if they terrorize; to defeat them, we must reject inordinate fear and the self-destructive things it may make us do.The irony here is that during the Cold War it was often retired U.S. diplomats of the Freeman type who made precisely such remarks in relation to the Soviet threat.