Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11 Thought: What If They Gave A War And Everybody Came?

As a child born three years to the day after the A-bombing of Hiroshima, I actually asked myself that question once in a while over the years, not as an hypothetical extreme, but as a real possibility. So, I believe, did most American kids who did literal duck-and-cover drills in our elementary school classrooms before we were old enough to understand what we were covering ourselves from.

As the years passed and the details of the consequences of even the smallest nuclear war were filled in for us... anyone else remember a made-for-TV movie titled "The Day After"? ... at least a few teens like me came to see what it meant for the world, especially the part of it divided into "the free world" and "the Commies," if that scenario were ever realized. The weapons to destroy literally all humankind existed; "we" had them; "they" had them... and every time the US and the USSR fought a proxy war, I wondered if it was to be our last encounter.

Fast-forward 25 or more years. Some actual reduction of tension was achieved, to a point at which many of us held some hope that the Cold War need not become hot, at least not right away. Some weapons reductions were actually performed, although both sides still had enough nukes to destroy the "civilized" world several times over. Most of us learned to live with the conflict. Uneasily. Looking over our shoulders every day...

... Except the likes of Ronald Reagan, John Bolton, Dick Cheney, and... Osama bin Laden and his ilk, including Bush Junior. Every nation had its share of nut-jobs willing at least in theory to blow us all to kingdom come in an ultimate ideologically triggered and driven war. I actually knew Americans in the 1980s who would say, out loud, the Russians have these weapons so we have to have more of them. You talk about people unclear on the concept...

Fortunately, I knew damned few ordinary American citizens... and "damned" those few truly were... who actually thought Armageddon was a good idea. As long as those held no leadership positions, there was still some hope that humankind would not be vaporized en masse. But then some of them, not in any real sense power brokers but still determined to have their way, discovered terrorism, and then some opponents of those people discovered they could use the terrorists for their own purposes in projecting the classic "fear, uncertainty and doubt" (FUD) onto understandably concerned and occasionally terrified ordinary individuals, to achieve the effect of their great ultimate ideological battle without having the raw political power to order the necessary ultimate engagement of forces.

Most people, even so, thought it was a crack-brained idea actually to do those things. But "most people" don't always control the disposition of real-world forces... and then there are the utterly crazy people who sometimes do.

We've managed to survive 14 years from Osama bin Laden's attempt at, and of course George W. Bush's collusion in, provoking their respective worlds into indulging in some sort of ultimate engagement of forces. I probably won't live another 14 years, but many of you will.

Can you... please, I urge you... stave off the crazies for at least another 14 years? What with ISIS and all, Armageddon kinda nervous about the direction of things...

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