Wednesday, September 9, 2015

asleep at the wheel


I grew up during the second half of Cold War and I can’t ever remember waking up wrapped in sweat soaked sheets screaming in horror from a nightmare of Soviet nuclear attack.  We had “always” had an enemy and that was just the natural order of things.  To me, nuclear war was just like an asteroid hit-you didn’t know when, or if, and most likely if then you were dead anyway ( the second half of my childhood was spend right next to Vandenberg AFB.  I don’t know if that was a primary target but perhaps I had the impression as such which would account for my uncaring attitude-if you are right under an explosion you don’t have to worry about the aftermath ).  Which really, in hindsight, was an amazing attitude.  Not only did I join the military during one of the more heightened tensions period, I lived as a civilian also unconcerned during the same time.  If I’d had the sense God gave a box of rocks I would have been a lot more freaked out.  I was just like the rest of the hypnotized population I make fun of today.   And in fact, I was far worse.  How can global thermonuclear war be so easily dismissed?  Sure, in reality the Russians were never really a true threat.  War in both countries was used as an excuse to leash dissent and keep the economies running smoother.


It wasn’t really military spending that collapsed the Soviets but Peak Oil, contrary to Reagan fans ascertains.  How is that possible when at the same time we got an economic boost from doing the same thing?  And we outspent them.  This was a smokescreen to hide both resource depletion and the Petro-Dollar economy which was feeding the finance sector.  Furthermore, military growth was one of our few industrial sectors left standing, Detroit still sent complete crap off the assemble line through most of the 80’s.  As long as oil kept pumping and the military kept needing more we kept our jobs.  The contracting military 90’s was only possible through the fluke of extra cheap oil as we drew down Russian reserves.


But at the time we faced Soviet threats, we didn’t know any of this, facts gleaned afterwards.  As far as we knew at the time, the Russian Bear really was set on global domination.  Really was aggressive.  It was all lies-and it amazes me nobody is called on that-but those same lies should have had far more of us worried to death.  Yet outside a few Commie Hollywood actors and a few Pinko peace protestors ( yes, weren’t we all under the spell of patriotism? ), no one seemed all that worried.  The exact same situation as today with terrorism except the difference that while one nuclear bomb can kill millions, all the terrorists together cause fewer casualties than the number of highway fatality deaths that same day ( okay, perhaps a bit hyperbolic, as an attack on the Saudi main oil processing facility screwing up global petroleum supply delivery would indirectly kill quite a few-but you get my point ).  If the whole population could ignore the direct nuclear war threat that would have killed half of us by fallout and the other half by “nuclear winter”, then surely it is no great effort to ignore economic collapse, Peak Oil, etc.

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  1. We're the same age James, and about all that I can recall from the cold war era was our silly little classroom drills. Curtains closed (As if that would make a difference) under your desk in the fetal position, hands tucked across the back of your head.

    Other than that, it was business as usual, aside from the propaganda films of the day featuring the “dirty Soviets” as the villains, as opposed to the “sand africans”. The East Germans being the most popular choice of villain.

    The other thing that I must admit to being baffled by, is this infatuation that the modern right seems to have with Reagan? If you were to analyze some of his policies, he really wasn't as much for liberty as many seem to think? “Well, he was much better than what we have now!” they'll say. But this means nothing to me, since my expectations for what we have now were lower than whale shit to begin with.

    1. I think the thing to keep in mind about Presidents is that they ALL are corrupted by the office after, if not before taking it. The best ones, even Jefferson and Jackson, don't have spotless records. Reagan certainly was not perfect. Union busting, Contra fund raising, giving the financial sector free reign. With some of that, we can blame an old mind swayed by the evilness of Bush whispering in his ear, but even if it was all on the old boy, here is what my point is. The best or the better ones are the ones least corrupted, who tried like hell to be as good as is possible in their position. I think Reagan was one of those, and there are darn few in the last fifty years.