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Anyone else miss the Soviet Union?(10 posts)

Anyone else miss the Soviet Union?Duane Gran
Dec 23, 2002 10:14 AM
I think I'm not alone when I say that the "war on terrorism" makes me uneasy and leaves me with mental fatigue when I think of its perpetual state. I don't mean this as a criticism of the present administration, but I struggle to see how we can ever "win" this war.

More than a dozen times I've heard people say how they miss the strange certainty of the cold war and the Soviet Union. It was scary too, but at least the enemy had a postal address of sorts.

What do you think? Would you trade today's uncertainty for yesterday's cold war?
re: Anyone else miss the Soviet Union?Jon Billheimer
Dec 23, 2002 11:32 AM
Having grown up in the fifties with all the anti-Communist hysteria, no I wouldn't trade today for yesterday. Having said that, though, the ramifications for American society and democracy in general of this new "war on terror" truly worry me. America is becoming less free and more dismissive of dissent. American foreign policy is driven totally by expediency rather than by principle. So the ways in which this war may change us may be more damaging to our quality of life and community than the overt threat of terrorist acts themselves. An unreflective and reactionary administration is abusing the power of the executive branch of government in ways that haven't been seen since the Reagan administration, and there are precious few voices in Congress protesting the drift into executive authoritarianism.

If there was a good thing about the cold war, it's that there was a "balance of terror" that restrained the behaviour of powerful nations. Now that there is no effective countervail to U.S. power the odds increase exponentially that it's power will be abused.
Every government needs an enemy...cory
Dec 23, 2002 5:14 PM
...to justify whatever it wants to do. For Republicans, it was often The Commies (I grew up during the '50s, too--I remember air raid drills, hiding under my desk and wondering how I'd get home if The Bomb fell). Democrats since Johnson have leaned more toward poverty and social causes.
Whether to trade threats is an interesting question, though. I like the idea of a clear enemy in a specific place, where we can keep an eye on him (and also where voters might be able to judge government's actions). I have no faith in the Bush admin to give voters the information we need to make decisions about the present threat--it's the most secretive government in decades, and the threat is hard to pin down anyway.
Some people are inclined to trust leaders. I'm inclined NOT to--I've been around politicians a lot in my job, and my overall opinion is low.
But the trade: Assuming the same people were in power in both cases, I don't know that there's any difference. We're kept in the dark and fed whatever they want us to believe either way, and our Social Security money is going to go to blow up some enemy . I don't know that it matters if they're Russian or Al Qaeda.
who misses the "nuclear clock"?DougSloan
Dec 27, 2002 7:07 AM
They didn't mean the Naval Observatory clock, either. Remember "2 minutes to midnight"? Remember "The Day After"? I lived in Kansas City when that was aired. Scary.

No, I don't a country that was hell-bent on converting the world.

I have to disagree on your views of the administration, though. You might recall a little incident in New York that started all this, and that was not precipitates solely or even primarily by the Bush administration.

Don't forget, we are in a war. In war time, you do whatever it takes to win. When we fight limited wars with our hands tied, we get our asses kicked. When we plan to win, we do.

Doug
who misses the "nuclear clock"?Duane Gran
Dec 30, 2002 7:24 AM
I don't [miss] a country that was hell-bent on converting the world

I think the Soviet Union was wrong to forcefully assimilate neighboring countries into its worldview, so we are in agreement there. At least the Soviets were bold about it, while the terrorists hide in caves.

I have to disagree on your views of the administration, though. You might recall a little incident in New York that started all this, and that was not precipitates solely or even primarily by the Bush administration.

I believe my original statement clarified that I meant this as no criticism of the current administration. I think a democrat would do similar things. In many ways our hand has been forced.

Don't forget, we are in a war. In war time, you do whatever it takes to win. When we fight limited wars with our hands tied, we get our asses kicked. When we plan to win, we do.

I believe we are doing war-like things, but I don't recall a declaration of war from congress, aside from the war with Afghanistan last year. Technically speaking, we aren't at war, but we are perpetually mindful and watching for a small cadre of enemies. I agree with you about the futility of limited war, but how can we win this conflict? How do we win? What does V-day look like in this war?

I suppose the eventual peaceful outcome of the cold war was hard to predict too, but I hate this uncertainty. The enemies of old made more sense to me.
I agreeDougSloan
Dec 30, 2002 7:37 AM
Your last sentence, I certainly agree with. There was something tangible about the Cold War. We knew the enemy.

They main difference now is that at least we don't face total annihilation. The terrorists might kill a few thousand here and there, but at least all life on the planet (except for bugs and microbes) is not threatened.

So, we've traded certainty and annihilation for vagueness and limited consequences.

How do we win? We may not. This is really more like what the police do than what soldiers do. Crime will never be erradicated; maybe terrorism is similar. All we can do is limit and control it. I still think we attack it in a warlike fashion, though; that is, with the zeal and thoroughness of war, rather than the limited means of domestic police.

Doug
NeverMcAndrus
Dec 24, 2002 6:22 AM
As a child in the 50s and 60s, nuclear war was considered a near certainty and all we needed was a touch-point to set it off. Let's see, the Suez Crisis in 56, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 61 (or 2, I forget), the Yom Kippur War in 73, the mining of Haiphong Harbor in 72: all of these things were considered substantial enough to cause the US and USSR to start a stare-down.

When I was in grade school we used to have nuclear attack drills. One form was to hide under our desks. Another form was to line up alongside the heavy walls of the hallway. Every Saturday in our little working-class Detroit suburb, our air raid siren would go off as a test.

Don't get me wrong, international terrorism is a grave threat but not as grave or immediate as the end of civilization as we know it.
James Bond Movies have not been the same sinceAlpedhuez55
Dec 24, 2002 8:19 AM
It is strange not having an enemy like that when you see movies like Bond or Tom Clancy.

THe enemy now is much more dangerous in some ways. If a terrorist blows up a bomb or uses biological weapons, there is not state to resond against. They do not fear retribution.

I would much rather see crackdowns on extremists by Muslim Nations. Suadi Arabia pretends to be a a friend, but they do not go far enough. The extremists are allowed to operate in many countries by their governements. People should look at Sadamm Hussein and see Hitler. Look at what he did to the Kurds. And what do you think he would do in Isreal if given the chance.

If there is a war, it is not about oil. The liberals need to get a clue and stop trying to use that. This is about a group of people who want to impose their primative way of life on the free world.

Mike Y.
Simpering fidelisSteveS
Dec 24, 2002 9:55 AM
You've got it right, Mike, it is much more dangerous when the enemy filters through the general populace to do their terroristic deeds without an army installation or force to target to eliminate their threat. As long as their clandestine machinations are hidden, they are invisible and untouchable.

Like some others here, I grew up during the Cold War when the Communist threat was very real and since I am fairly good at history, I remember no "hysteria." I do remember watching President Kennedy's first and maybe most momentous speechs about the Soviet missiles being installed in Cuba and aimed at us. He was a strong leader, about 180 different from the simpering members of the Democrat party today.

As an aside, my Cambodian-immigrant barber remembers very clearly the Communist reality of Pol Pot as they skinned her grandfather alive. I guess he was part of that million or so murdered by Communists in the "Killing Fields." She, surprisingly, had a very unliberal view of how to deal with terrorists and what efforts should be used to keep people from being skinned or blown apart.

Uh oh, the news today says that Muslim terrorists blew up 13 people in the Phillipines. Can one imagine what "hysteria" might drive the government of the Phillipines to enact to curb these terrorist murders? Wow, that is a scary thought! "Democracy" might not survive! And 'so sorry' about the victims of terrorism.

If the Phillipine government is truly reactionary, it will do little or nothing until Moros do their next killing and then react to that. Pre-emptive efforts might step on some toes in an effort to save lives. The latter might be unkind.

Sadly, my fear is that it will take more and much bigger "victories" by Muslim terrorists (they are the real threat)to impress upon Europeans and non-Kennedy like Americans of where the real danger lies. Let's hope that never happens.

And it ain't about the oil, you got it right.
NoStarliner
Dec 26, 2002 10:13 PM
When I was a kid, I remember my father who was a reservist Air Force pilot leaving the house shortly after a late night phone call came. He was gone for a week or so and we didn't know where the hell he was, but we knew it had something to do with Cuba. That wasn't a fun time for me.

The time of the Red Threat is past; let it remain so. It might be helpful, however, to review how and where we erred in our responses to it.... specifically, Vietnam. All this rhetoric about bringing "freedom" and "democracy" for the people of Iraq has me wondering if there's anybody left who remembers any lessons we learned in that "war".