What the Hell is Going On?

That when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s we Americans were involved in a “Cold War” with the Soviet Union. I suspect that the Cold War had something to do with my parents (and of course, my brother and myself who were small children at the time) emigrating to the United States and Germany, specifically what was then known as West Germany. We came to the United States around the time of the Berlin war, when East Germany, on orders from Moscow, blockaded West Berlin.


In elementary school, we did air raids probably every month. We were all frightened of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. That attack, fortunately, never came. But there was a constant state of very high tension between the two countries. I remember seeing Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on the podium at the United Nations condemning the United States. I remember the Cuban missile crisis during the Kennedy administration. I remember watching public service announcements on the television networks showing how to protect yourself in case of a nuclear attack. I remember the commercial for fallout shelters for those who could afford them. Boy, if they ever wanted to get rid of poverty by eliminating poor people, that would have been the time to do it.

I remember the Cold War supposedly coming to an end during the Reagan administration when the Berlin wall was destroyed and ultimately East and West Germany became one country again. Then there was the “fall” of the Soviet Union, with many of the Soviet republics declaring their independence. There was even a short period in the 1990s when Russia tried to become a real democracy. Sadly, that effort was doomed. It is hard to instill democratic values in a people that have lived under totalitarian rule for more than 1000 years. The Soviet Union was really not much different, culturally speaking, then tsarist Russia. Stalin and Ivan the Terrible would have gotten along quite well, I think. LOL


It is extremely hard to instill the proper cultural values that would allow a democratic form of government to succeed in a country that has a very long history of totalitarian government dating back to the earliest tsars. It seems that Vladimir Putin is trying and succeeding to restore totalitarianism in the Russian republic. It seems that anyone of significance who opposes his autocratic rule disappears or is found dead. All very mysterious. Yeah, right! I made a reference to another madman infamous in Russian history, Rasputin. I wonder if Vladimir Putin I and II might be a distant relative, lol (stupid joke, I know). After all, this is the centennial of the October Revolution. Maybe he wants to be the architect of the restoration of the tsarist monarchy with him as tsar. Stranger things have happened!


Not only has Putin eliminated many of his opponents in Russia, he allegedly has been tampering in American politics. I am really undecided about whether I believe this story or not. There were many accusations made against the Russians during the Cold War that were, to put it delicately, highly exaggerated. I am not defending the Soviet Union here. There was much wrong with that country during the official Communist rule. I have read the novels of Alexander Solzhenitsyn about the Stalin era.


Now that I have established the fact that I am quite familiar with American – Russian relations, let’s get to the point of this post. It seems to me that there are elements on both sides of the fence that want to reopen the Cold War. A lot of people on both sides have a lot to gain if the Cold War is reopened.


First and foremost, the ultraconservatives in the US and Russia would be able to say, “I told you so.” That would allow them to make a serious grab for power, not only internally but internationally as well. Raised tensions between the US and Russia would benefit China, Iran, Syria, Israel and who knows who else. We thought the posturing was over the top back in the 50s and 60s. As the cliché goes, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.” The public service announcements in many countries would be dominated by lessons on what to do in case of a nuclear war. Back in the heyday of the Cold War, only the US and Russia were serious nuclear threats. These days, the nuclear club is much larger. Hell, there are probably nuclear weapons in the hands of “unofficial groups” who are not members of the old boy nuclear network. It is anybody’s guess who these groups are and what they will do.


Maybe it’s time we all stopped posturing, stop the blustering, and tried to work together to make this planet a safer place for our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren, and generations to come beyond that. It’s time we focused more on what makes us the same (human) and less on what makes us different. In the cosmic scheme of things, ethnic differences, racial differences, religious differences, gender differences, sexual orientation differences, and whatever else are insignificant. We need to remember that we are all human, all members of the same species who live on the same planet together. One of these days, and I don’t think it’s that far-off, we will be contacted by a different species from a different planet. Whether they will be peaceful or threatening is anybody’s guess. But, we had better be prepared for that day. The more united we are as a species, the more likely the aliens will at least try a peaceable approach in the beginning. If we are divided, as the old saying goes, we will be conquered. Is that what we really want? Time to grow up, people of the world!



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