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Tue Jan 15, 2013, 05:43 PM

Eight Things I Miss About the Cold War


from TomDispatch:



Eight Things I Miss About the Cold War
Fifty Years Ago, College Was Cheap, Unions Were Strong, and There Was No Terrorism-Industrial Complex

By Jon Wiener


At a book festival in Los Angeles recently, some writers (myself included) were making the usual arguments about the problems with American politics in the 1950s -- until one panelist shocked the audience by declaring, “God, I miss the Cold War.” His grandmother, he said, had come to California from Oklahoma with a grade-school education, but found a job in an aerospace factory in L.A. during World War II, joined the union, got healthcare and retirement benefits, and prospered in the Cold War years. She ended up owning a house in the suburbs and sending her kids to UCLA.

Several older people in the audience leaped to their feet shouting, “What about McCarthyism?” “The bomb?” “Vietnam?” “Nixon?”


All good points, of course. After all, during the Cold War the U.S. did threaten to destroy the world with nuclear weapons, supported brutal dictators globally because they were anti-communist, and was responsible for the deaths of several million people in Korea and Vietnam, all in the name of defending freedom. And yet it’s not hard to join that writer in feeling a certain nostalgia for the Cold War era. It couldn’t be a sadder thing to admit, given what happened in those years, but -- given what’s happened in these years -- who can doubt that the America of the 1950s and 1960s was, in some ways, simply a better place than the one we live in now? Here are eight things (from a prospectively longer list) we had then and don’t have now.

......(snip)......

2. We didn’t have a secret “terrorism-industrial complex.”

That’s the term coined by Dana Priest and William Arkin in their book Top Secret America to describe the ever-growing post-9/11 world of government agencies linked to private contractors charged with fighting terrorism. During the Cold War, we had a handful of government agencies doing “top secret” work; today, they found, we have more than 1,200.

For example, Priest and Arkin found 51 federal organizations and military commands that attempt to track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks. And don’t forget the nearly 2,000 for-profit corporate contractors that engage in top-secret work, supposedly hunting terrorists. The official budget for “intelligence” has increased from around $27 billion in the last years of the Cold War to $75 billion in 2012. Along with this massive expansion of government and private security activities has come a similarly humongous expansion of official secrecy: the number of classified documents has increased from perhaps 5 million a year before 1980 to 92 million in 2011, while Obama administration prosecutions of government whistleblowers have soared. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175638/tomgram%3A_jon_wiener%2C_ike%27s_dream%2C_obama%27s_reality/#more



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Reply Eight Things I Miss About the Cold War (Original post)
marmar Jan 2013 OP
leveymg Jan 2013 #1
Brigid Jan 2013 #2
leveymg Jan 2013 #3
Fumesucker Jan 2013 #4
bananas Jan 2013 #5

Response to marmar (Original post)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 06:18 PM

1. Here's a line from the Cold War: "We have met the enemy, & he's us." Now, that's treated literally.

Things did seem a lot simpler in the 1960s, and we were a lot more confident it would all end up okay.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 07:52 PM

2. This is why . . .

Last edited Tue Jan 15, 2013, 08:39 PM - Edit history (1)

"Mad Men" is so popular. In a number of ways, life was better; and people, even those too young to have experienced it firsthand, know it.

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Response to Brigid (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 08:26 PM

3. Median American purchasing power peaked in 1974, and is now about 30% less.

Most of that decline since 2000.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 09:13 PM

4. The Peace Dividend

In retrospect one of the stupidest things I think I've ever heard.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 04:40 AM

5. There are still thousands of nuclear warheads on hair-trigger alert

In the article he says:
...But there is one thing I do NOT miss about the Cold War: nuclear arsenals on hair-trigger alert.


But there are still thousands of nuclear warheads on hair-trigger alert.

A Fact Sheet from the Nuclear Threat Initiative:
http://www.nti.org/analysis/articles/fact-sheet-building-global-security-taking-nuclear-weapons-hair-trigger-alert/

Fact Sheet: Building Global Security by Taking Nuclear Weapons off Hair-Trigger Alert

Oct. 15, 2012

More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, the United States and Russia continue to keep hundreds of ballistic missiles and thousands of strategic nuclear warheads on hair-trigger, launch-ready status.

<snip>



A 2009 report from the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament:
http://icnnd.org/Reference/reports/ent/part-ii-2.html#alert

Alert Status of Existing Weapons

<snip>

2.39 Strategists and operation planners usually make a distinction between short-notice alert and launch-on-warning (LOW) or launch-under-attack (LUA) policy, (also popularly, if inaccurately, described as “hair trigger alert”). The former relates to all combat ready weapons that may be launched quickly (in a few minutes time) after receiving the order, primarily ICBMs and SLBMs at sea. The latter is associated with weapons that must be launched quickly upon receiving information about an opponent’s attack in order to avoid destruction on the ground. <snip>

2.40 Altogether there are now probably about 3,000 nuclear warheads of the U.S., Russia, France and Britain at launch ready status at any given moment in peacetime, of which around 2,150 are on very high alert in line with the LOW/LOA concept and operational plans (on U.S. and Russian ICBMs, and on Russian SLBMs on submarines at bases).

<snip>


A 2012 article from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:
http://thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/remembering-the-cuban-missile-crisis#rt9375

Jayantha Dhanapala, Board of Sponsors: A continuing crisis
17 October 2012

<snip>

The passage of five decades and the introduction of hotlines, permissive action links, and other technological brakes on the launch of nuclear warfare has not decreased the threat of nuclear war. Nine nuclear-weapon-armed states have a total arsenal of 19,000 warheads, nearly 2,000 of which are on high operational alert. The threat has in fact increased, and potential for use of nuclear weapons -- whether intentionally or by accident, through computer error or cyber attack or terrorism -- is only too real. There is no guarantee that we will have luck on our side, as we did during the Cuban Missile Crisis, in our time. To reduce the likelihood of an Armageddon that will doom all countries -- large and small, sophisticated or less so -- we must:

<snip>


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