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Thursday, July 23, 2009

The new Cold War

I once walked through Red Square and stood in front of Lenin’s tomb.
I went to the Bolshoi, I toured the summer palace, I walked the night streets of Moscow, tailed by a phalanx of KGB officers. And I did it all, the year before the Soviet Union broke apart.

I worked for the 501st Tactical Missile Wing, a unit which had been reactivated to house, maintain and possibly launch 96 nuclear cruise missiles in the event of an attack – all under the “MAD” theory (Mutually Assured Destruction).

Why is this relevant at all?

Consider that, while the rest of the world has essentially abandoned them to their fate, the Iranian people continue to resist their insane – and likely very dangerous government - calling for Ahmadinijad to step down. Good people, tired of the thugs who are in control of the country, are protesting still, although the government is becoming more and more effective at putting down riots, and the lack of organization is making it impossible for these folks to break free.

They may lose and a free Iran may remain just an unreachable idea, just as early America might have been without the eventual assistance of the French. Our early colonies could have had their push for independence quashed by the British just as easily as not. It was always a near thing.

So, the formation and collapse of the Soviet Union and the civil disturbances in Iran and even the American Revolutionary War, are all relevant and connected, because they deal with key, recurring concepts.

Did you know that in 1998, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, was named as one of the most influential people of the 20th Century by Time Magazine. This is because this Russian lawyer became involved with Marxist revolutionaries, social activists and eventually led the Bosheviks to the Russian Revolution. In 1916 Lenin penned “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism," which suggested that the merging of banks and industrial cartels would give rise to finance capital. The last stage of capitalism, according to the man who would become the founding father of the Soviet Union, was the pursuit of greater profits than the home market can provide.

November 7 and 8, 1917, marked the storming of the Winter Palace by the Bolsheviks, and the beginning of Soviet rule.

But that wasn’t the end for Lenin. His march to ultimate power may have begun in the October Revolution, but the long civil war, which followed between red and white factions, saw the deaths of hundreds of thousands, the targeting of social classes by government thugs and terrorism, which was the answer to years of instability and the collapse of society.

One of Lenin’s own writings, titled “How to Organize the Competition” is concerned with describing how to eliminate all sorts of “vermin…” including “the rich.” An interesting side-note - the late Australian leftist, Manning Clark once called Lenin “Christ-like.”

So we come to present day – and an attempted revolution by Iran against its’ own corrupt leadership. I can’t help but wonder what will become of those revolutionaries. I think, however, that with momentum lost and no one to back them up, so goes the dream of their freedom.

Yet, their current leadership poses a greater threat to others than it does to its’ own people. They are developing a nuclear capability.

In 1986 I watched with others at the base which contained our own country’s nuclear cruise weapons – all targeted on points in Russia - as President Ronald Reagen said the words “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” I remember the heady feeling I had at those words and the images which followed – young Germans using sledge hammers; the Berlin wall falling away in sections.

We knew then – all of us sitting in the base dining hall, watching that television, that the Cold War was over. We knew our unit had played at least a small role in keeping the pressure on, long enough to see Communism, and all the Marxist ideas, which had been put forward by Lenin – fail. We believed we had won the Cold War.

Today I see the world with older eyes. I wonder what we have become that we should allow the yoke of suppression to be dropped again on the necks of the Iranian people, who were struggling for freedom just as we did so many years ago.

I wonder why a nation, founded on freedom would be toying with some of the notions once outlined by Lenin, himself. I remember watching the wall come down. I remember standing in front of Lenin’s tomb. I remember considering if the Cold War could ever end, even then, standing there in the middle of Russian winter. Was it the weather making me cold? Or was it the unmistakable press of history all around me?

Our forefathers fought for freedom and once upon a time, they won it. The Russians fought for freedom and it was nearly within their grasp – instead they found civil war, famine, atrocities and collapse beneath the weight of self-styled social engineers. The Iranian people fight for freedom now – and are almost immediately forgotten.

What is the common thread? Does it matter?

At the height of the Cold War the United States and Russia had enough nuclear armaments pointed at each other, to turn the Earth into a dusty wasteland. We went to the brink at least once – probably many times. And although the Cold War has passed us and those moments where I could feel history, are gone, we now face the prospect of Iranian leadership being armed with the same technology. This is an Iranian government in cooperation with the equally crazed North Korea – and all this with a United States too busy with its’ own experimentation into failed Soviet social engineering – to do anything real about it.

So, did we really win? Or is it all again building, not only out there, amongst the acknowledged enemies of freedom – but also here within our borders, thriving as ideas once thought dead and buried with Lenin and Stalin.

Did we really win the Cold War? Or was it just a dream I had?

Because lately, despite the alleged global warming, I’ve been feeling a bit chilled.

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