Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cold War

I was a Cold Warrior, of sorts. I worked for a defense contractor in the 80's. I was a lowly clerk. Still, we all thought that we were doing our part. That we were working to keep the big bad bear at bay. It was all about Ivan.

Now, we had nothing against Russians, Khazaks, Georgians, or any of the rest of the people of the republics in the USSR. Hell, in this land of immigrants some of us were Russian. I am one quarter Russian and proud of it. We all loved Russian music, Russian ballet, vodka, girls... There was no question there. Slavs are sweet.

We all looked forward to hearing that Soviet and US diplomats were discussing arms control in Geneva. We held our breath. When news of a new anti ballistic missile treaty was announced, we cheered. We remembered seeing Russians perform on the Ed Sullivan show with dancing bears, jugglers, and musicians. It's hard to hate someone with a dancing bear, after all. We remembered Walter Cronkite talking about the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. Disney's Peter and the Wolf. We could sense that those were real people and real culture. Culture we could relate to. To be like. If only our damn governments could get along.

We kept building our ships that sink, of course. We kept up on who was spying on whom and what cut throat, spy vs. spy, dirty deal was happening on which continent. Of course that stuff still went on and we were just as guilty as they were. Politics may make for odd bedfellows but the spy business is obscene. But there was a sense that the ultimate direction was down. Away from escalation. Away from the nuclear brink. Away from confrontation. And that was good. Good for all of us. Good for our children who would thank us for a more peaceful world. More dancing bears. Fewer Cosacks. No need for ships that sink. And we felt that the people over there were much like the people over here. How could they not?

What happened?

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