Thursday, 7 June 2012

What I miss about the Cold War

Kids today, make that anyone under 30, what are they like? Anyone over that age is likely at some point to have stood on a hill and seen a mushroom shaped cloud and no matter how fleetingly thought, oh shit they have pressed the button. Followed quickly by thoughts of how the living would envy the dead.

This usually induced some late night worries about whether a survivalist future, would in fact be more fun than the current hum drum existence and whether it was really a good idea to stock up on more pasta and tinned goods, or perhaps dig a shelter in the back garden just in case. After a while these thoughts would peter out and life would return to normal until the next misshapen cumulonimbus. In those days we were all at least metaphorically on the front life for a few days a year.

Then came the fall of the Iron Curtain and the talk was of peace dividends, however the reality of that is that the economy is Keynesian so less spending on arms meant less building arms, which meant less jobs and which meant less research. The IRA was still killing civvies and squaddies to some extent, but it wasn't really the same.

In a moment of reflection, I realized that what had gone before WW2 was not peace and tranquillity but British and other troops engaged in actions all over the world maintaining empire etc. And that while the empire was no more there was a lot of pent up anger and desire sloshing around that had been kept from exploding by super power rivalry and was armed to the teeth, by the same super powers. The dictatorship of European powers in far away places had gone in the 50s and 60s largely to be replaced by the dictatorship of a minority group. The first requirement of any new middle eastern proto despot was to be from a minority group with an axe to grind. On the rare occasion the democracy took root we dug it up and put in place a dictator.

It might not have been peaceful, but it was predictable. What I want now is a ring tone based on Cold War alerts, something that tells me randomly "Bikini State is Red" or screams out in the middle of a meeting "Chrome Dome is go repeat Chrome dome is go" just to look at the faces of the youngsters when us 30+ start deciding if we want to live or die.