Saturday, July 03, 2010

You keep using that word...

Nostalgia as defined according my Mac's excellent onboard New Oxford American Dictionary* as [noun] "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations."I don't know about you, but these aren't the feelings I get when I think of the Cold War. But some writer for AP named Steven Hurst seems to think so.

Essay: Spy arrests offer bit of Cold War nostalgia

By Steven R. Hurst, The Associated Press

The capture of those alleged deep-cover Russian agents has — for a moment of nostalgia — taken Americans back to a day when their enemy was sneaky but familiar, ensconced right there behind the crenelated red-brick Kremlin walls.

Through the Cold War, the U.S. had adapted psychologically to those bad guys: misguided anti-capitalist Europeans who, nevertheless, sat in the United Nations, had diplomats in world capitals and even agreed now and again to cold-eyed summit meetings.

That enemy could not and did not flourish in the vastness of alien deserts or impenetrable hideaways in some of the world's most rugged and distant mountains.

The Soviets never sent suicide pilots to fly planes into landmark American skyscrapers.

Members of their dour Politburo weren't out to kill religious infidels. They believed in no god, their only religion the tangled theories of Marx and Lenin.

Nevermind a militarised Northwest Europe perpetually on the brink of war, nuclear weapons by the thousands and troops in the millions in high readiness, proxy wars and dirtry little fights on nearly every continent that killed, tortured and impoverished millions. Just minor distractions to a silly little intellectual disagreement between cute and fuzzy power blocs.

We're you even alive during the Cold War Stevo? I'm not all that old but there was an air-raid siren across the street from my house when I was wee. It scared the the shit out of me, and if it went off for something other than summoning the volunteer fire brigade, it probably meant the collective living future of humanity was measured in minutes, not millenia. Because some asshole in some distant capital reckoned today was the day to sort out those other guys, or some hungover technician in front of a radar screen mistook a flock of birds for a bomber fleet.

So no, I'm much less worried about a few guys in flying planes into a buildings and what is really a small number of troops facing off against some poor people with rusty weapons in a landlocked country on the far side of the world. These things are serious yes and maybe not as simple to understand as a Cold War binary, but they don't threaten to turn the planet into glass parking lot. And we have the option of engaging in this fight.

So no, Steven, you elemental muppet, nostalgia is not the word I would use.

* This also includes the Oxford Writer's Thesaurus, the Apple dictionary, and Wikipedia. You don't need an internet connection for any tool but Wiki. There are days when this feature alone makes owning a Mac all worthwhile. If you use a Mac, and don't know about it, look in your Applications folder. It beats the hell out whatever that web-based piece of nonsense is that comes with MS Office for Mac. OK, enough of my shameless plug.

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