Cold War, Hot TemperI recently learned I'm eligible for a Cold War service medal for my late 70s-early 80s stint in the Air Force. Not being the sort who delights in wearing my old uniform bedecked with medals every Fourth of July, I probably won't take the time to find all the missing paperwork to prove I'm entitled to it.
Besides, the Cold War was a pretty sweet deal for me. I flew around the world in my own semi-private airplane, visiting 24 countries on every continent save Antarctica and Australia. Most of my missions were logistical trips to deliver dependent household goods here or a planeload of live goats there (that's a story for another day though). And despite my training, I never seriously believed the Cold War would turn hot. The Soviets and the Chinese understood that nukes equaled death, proving that the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) wasn't so mad after all.
Besides, if they'd invaded, we could have easily co-opted them by meeting the Commie hoards on the beach and offering free McDonald's franchises to lay down their arms.
The other reason I won't go for the medal is that I believe I personally had little or nothing to do with thawing out the war. I know this is political heresy, but I'd like to point out that - contrary to popular belief - Ronald Reagan had little to do with it either.
No doubt he was in office when the wheels came off the tatty Commie bus, but it wasn't because of some diabolically clever plan he cooked up. Reagan simply applied the greatest capitalist tool of all - spending like a drunken sailor. He spent two dollars for every dollar the Soviets did and finally the strain became too great and they went bust.
But today is different. The Soviets never quite got the hang of the whole capitalism thing and now find themselves in poorer shape than a failed Five Year plan. The Chinese caught the money bug and now whip our capitalist asses with some weird, voodoo mix of human rights repression and unrepentant deal making. The proof of their success is that all the cheap crap that used to say Made in Japan now says Made in China. The Japanese are now making all the expensive stuff and we're reduced to relying on outsourced Indian accountants to sign the checks that pay our obscenely compensated CEOs their bonuses and finance moving our last manufacturing jobs offshore.
It's different in other ways too.
While we giddily ship everything of value off to China, including apparently our foreign policy regarding North Korea, we forget that they're merely humoring us. They're simply buying everything we'll willingly sell before turning on us and stomping us like protesters out for a stroll on Tiananmen Square.
Meanwhile the ex-Soviets are acting up, finally tired of the failed hope of capitalism and ready to return to the days of block-long bread lines that at least provided bread when you waited your day-long turn.
The more I look at the situation, the more I think that things are sliding rather rapidly to a new and different kind of Cold War. This time around, the MAD principle isn't going to work. Someone who's willing to fly the 6:45 flight to Chicago into a high rise won't give much thought to lobbing a nuke at their neighbors. The high-minded ideal that nukes are a danger of the past andthat we'd passed the need for all that destructive power is dead too. Now, we'll find all manner of crackpot Amadenamacallits and Kim (You Make Me) Il Jungs ready to redecorate half a hemisphere with a well placed nuke.
Yet here we sit, unwilling and unable to stop a war we started. We're too tied down to face up to the crackpots who actually have nukes and ask the Chinese to, "please sir, make those evil axis Koreans stop." We're not staying the course. We're sitting in the road and the sound of a semi is coming upon us quickly.
Our problem is not Iraq. Our problem is not the War on Terror. Our problem is we have incompetent asshats who couldn't run the Texas Rangers baseball team in charge of the country.
So before the few civil liberties I still have evaporate like water on a hot, Texas sidewalk, I'm going to say this...
Mr. President, get off your cowpie chompin' ass and do something right for a change. As of today, we have 300 million people in this country. Surely you can find a person amongst them who isn't dumb as a stump to advise you on what to do next, because you obviously don't know what the hell you're doing.
So now I've vented. Now I've proclaimed - yet again - what a fine pickle we're in. I wish I could say it helped, but it didn't. I'm left with nothing but an address to claim a medal commemorating a war that wasn't a war and worry whether this country will still be around for my daughter to enjoy as I have.
It's a big worry indeed and I don't think it's going to stop any time soon.
Cross Posted at Less People Less Idiots
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, October 17, 2006