Friend of mine sent me a couple of links today that dramatically altered my world view, and changed my understanding of the balanace of geopolitical power in the world today.

No, really. I’m serious.

Here’s the thing: let’s set the Wayback Machine to 1982, when Yours Truly was busily learning how to cope with a new batch of hormones that had been uncerimoniously dumped into his bloodstream without so much as a “Get ready to be a basket case for a decade!”. I was not, shall we say, endowed with a broad, world-wide perspective at the time (being a punk kid), but even I knew that something was seriously fucked up in the way things were going. In a geopolitical sense, I mean.

Even Sting was telling me about it when I turned on the radio. I bet I can recite the goddamn thing from memory. Let’s find out, shall we?

In Europe and in America
There’s a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets

Mr. Kruschev says “We will bury you!”
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
Would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too.

How can I save my little boy
From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy
There is no monopoly in commonsense
On either side of the political fence

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the President
There’s no such thing as a winnable war
It’s a lie we don’t believe any more

Mr. Reagan says “We will protect you!”
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too.

-Sting, “Russians”, 1985

I remember distinctly drawing nuclear explosions (the glorious Mushroom Cloud, with its little ring around the stem; why did that ring always form?) over and over and over, fascinated with this shape that might someday darken my sky and bring death to everything I’d ever known.

It was not a pleasing thought. Yet, it seemed entirely normal to me at the time to be dwelling on the imminent death of all civilization.

We were all doing it, after all. It was a national preoccupation. Wargames. Miracle Mile. A Boy and His Dog. Mad Max, The Road Warrior, and Beyond Thunderdome. The Day After. The Handmaid’s Tale. Red Dawn. B movies at the time were fascinated with the genre (no doubt partially because you could film the whole thing in that wrecked junkyard just outside town): Cyborg. Def-Con 4. Steel Dawn. Stryker. And many other fine, fine films. You couldn’t drive past a (recently invented) multiplex theater without seeing a poster with a ‘shroom cloud on it.

And, although this might be difficult to remember, it was a genuine, constant fear. Kinda like the way you feel about terrorists today, except this one was about all of civilization (and, in fact, all life on the planet) being wiped off the map. It was sorta mind boggling, the amount of sheer destructive power that was put at the fingertips of a (very, very carefully selected) few, so you tried not to think about it too often.

Now? Not so much with the fear of world-wide devastation.

There have been a few exceptions, but you don’t see many stories nowadays built around the idea of life after a nuclear war. In fact, I would daresay that kids these days would want the word “post-apocalyptic” explained to them, as they have likely never come across it in their day-to-day routine. They might, in fact, be more familiar with the Christian version of the apocalypse then the nuclear one.

See, somewhere in the mid-90’s, right around the time that the Soviet Union collapsed, everyone sorta looked around, and checked to see if they weren’t the only one who thought that maybe… just maybe… we could put this particular worry source in a box and pack it away in the closet for safekeeping. Whaddaya think?

And, in a great collective sigh, we decided that the chances of the world ending because some crazed government employee Pushed The Big Red Button had diminished to an acceptable level. Such an act, as we all eventually came to understand, would leat to Mutually Assured Destruction, and even the crazed government employees seemed to be getting that through their heads.

whew That was a relief.


Yeah, still nukes out there. A lot of them. That’s been bugging us recently, and… well… actually sortof all along, but… it looks like it’s fairly unlikely that anything really bad is going to happen with the “free nukes, aisle 20!” stuff, given that there are a whole lot of government organizations very seriously invested in ensuring that nothing bad happens. Or, looked at from another direction, it’s possible, but we seem to be actively attempting to prevent it. Go team!

whew That’s a relief.


But nothing. All well and good.

Until today, when I get this email in my inbox, and click, and read. Thanks, buddy. Thanks, pal. Thanks a lot.


So, for your amusement, and in the spirit of sharing, here is the thing that until this very day had never been presented to me as an interesting factoid, and until this very day hadn’t occurred to me to apply any real concern or consideration to:

In terms of nuclear strike capability, the US is way, way ahead of everyone else in the entire world. Way ahead.

That’s the gist of this report, which is neatly summarized in a blog entry (in what appears to be a blog full to the gills on criticism of the current Hegemony) here [ JV:2017.02.25: LINK SANITIZED DUE TO MALWARE ].

I recommend it. The short version, I mean. I haven’t read the long one yet; I’m still working up the nerve. Although, put your blast shields up; I don’t believe it’s entirely conspiracy-theoryless.

I’m not sure it will make you any happier, and I have some serious doubts about some of the basic assumptions and some of the conclusions laid out in the piece, but… man, there are some points made in there that are worth thinking about.

As I’m writing this at the end of my work day, instead of the ususal morning routine, I believe I’m going to go home now, and think about what the title of this blog entry would look like in a mirror.

By |2017-11-25T06:30:38+00:00April 12th, 2006|Categories: Blog|5 Comments

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  1. IamWill March 2, 2007 at 12:00 am - Reply

    ‘We’ the righteous americans are likely to launch a tactical nuclear first strike on Iran. ‘We’ are testing a non nuke in new mexico to better guage what size nuke to use on Iran when ‘we’ realize that a conventional war is too expensive and that we lack troops and gear. It’s a little ironic to me that despite spending trillions of dollars on the best military in the world, we don’t have enough armor, vests, etc. to maintain a campaign. So we’ll take the cheap simple route. Start nuclear war! Woohooo yeah baby. Sweet dreams and sleep tight…

  2. norm March 2, 2007 at 12:00 am - Reply

    I want to be scared and outraged at our Nuclear supremacy.


    Somewhere deep down, it comforts me.

    And the fact that it does, scares me.

    So at least I wound up being scared eventualy.
    That’s good.

    I can take confort in that.

  3. the paladin brand March 2, 2007 at 12:00 am - Reply

    Oh I’m certainly not presenting the idea that the situation has gotten better, or worse.

    Simply that it has changed. 🙂

  4. druid March 2, 2007 at 12:00 am - Reply

    Heh, Todd.

    Seriously, though, it’s hard to say that a world in which there are *fewer* nuclear weapons (albeit one where the US holds most of them) is a bad thing – that’s the world we live in today, compared to 1982.

    Would people really feel more comfortable if China (or any other country) had a credible first-strike force? You can argue that ideally nobody would have such a force, but frankly that doesn’t seem realistic.

    Anyhow, I’m not particularly surprised about the situation (mostly because I listened to a discussion of this topic on NPR a few months back 🙂 – weapon technology gets better over time, and it is the goal of our military to become more powerful, not less. And since the US has not been preoccupied with slaughtering its own civilians or clumsily trying to hold together the remnants of their empire they’ve had plenty of opportunity to move ahead.

  5. The Todd March 2, 2007 at 12:00 am - Reply

    I would like to point out that since 1982 ABM training simulators have been ensuring that each and every American citizen is capable of defending five major population centers using just thirty ABM’s.

    Repeated simulations have ensured that the typical American youth is capable of suriving at least three waves of soviet/china attack, including the use of retalitory bombers and smart-bombs, and that in most cases, within that time, any population centers lost in the initial wave have been repbuilt upon scoring 10000 points.

    Even if we consider the average youth 20% slower, prone to three-finger rapid-barrages that waste ammo, and the track ball 50% harder to move, we still expect to survive at least one wave of missile attack with our current population.

    I think we can take ’em.

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