Just A Cold War - But So Nearly A Nuclear Winter!

Control Freaks: The cold war could definitely have been a lot colder! In fact it could have easily been a nuclear winter…. We know that many of the problems in this world are brought about by the selfish, the corrupt, and the ruthless in the top echelons of society. Every society, it seems, has its control freaks that want to take over and control everything and they don't mind who they tread on in order to achieve their ends. America's tussle with the USSR and the so-called 'free world' versus the so-called 'communist threat', spread right across the globe and became a universal Western paranoid fear of communism itself.

Can't Be Trusted: It is a sad fact in this world that governments simply can't be trusted, however, what is it about communism itself that the Americans and others in the world, are actually so afraid of? Could it simply be that communism, in its ideal, is about equality and sharing and looking after everyone? Understandably, that may not suit the mega-rich controlling elite, who want to own everything themselves and tend to use the rest of us like pawns and slaves, for they might be asked to give up some of their millions that they don't need for the sake of others that do. Heaven forbid!

Game Of Chess: Instead, it seems that the controlling elite, on both sides, would rather send people to die in order to battle it out. Any civilians caught up in the resultant atrocities are simply collateral damage. The ordinary people are not really the ones at fault here and when thousands of people are ordered to their death and thousands more completely innocent civilians die in a war such as Vietnam, one has to wonder what it is that ordinary people have to gain, in what is simply a game of chess, played out from backrooms, by the grandmasters on both sides, on someone else's board!

The Legacy Of War: The Vietnam War lasted 19 years and, even now, people still die in their hundreds every year from the legacy of that war, most of them children. Those children, innocent of course, weren't around at the time of the war to join the two million or so casualties back then, but they still pay the price today, some 40 years on, when they happen across some of the massive amount of unexploded ordnance that is still left over from that sad event. Up to thirty percent of the seven million tons of bombs dropped by the Americans in the various locations didn't explode at the time. People who start wars and drag the rest of us into it have a lot to answer for. Of course, they never volunteer themselves to go and fight but they certainly don't mind sacrificing others.

The Evil Empire: The Cold War could in fact have been far worse. In 1983 the Americans were embarking on the development of their Strategic Defence Initiative, Star Wars. Mr Reagan gave reference to the Soviet Union as 'The Evil Empire', a rather thoughtless and hypocritical remark which offended the Soviets and also made them paranoid. The Soviets shot down a Korean Airliner, killing 269 people, because they thought it was a spy plane. Things were bad. Missile numbers had increased and due to Star Wars the Soviets could see any such mutual response they may have to offer becoming impotent. They thought America had it in for them and was moving towards war. With uncanny timing, NATO decided to embark on a nuclear wargame, provocatively codenamed 'Able Archer'. Unfortunately, the Soviets had not forgotten that Hitler used a military exercise as a guise when he invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. Just like Titanic, things were conspiring very nicely and it was on the back of all this and other contributory factors that mankind nearly hit the iceberg - again.

One Fine Day: One fine day, Soviet satellites detected heat signatures indicating a multiple launch of American missiles. The Soviet soldier with his finger on the button was actually instructed by the system to launch a retaliatory strike. This, very fortunately for us, he decided not to do. Instead, he overrode the computer and disobeyed the order. Something he was later sacked for. What happened to the inbound attack of American missiles? Well, as it turned out, it was only the sun reflecting back off of unusually high-altitude clouds which fooled the satellites and the Soviets into thinking they were under attack and if our man had followed his orders to the letter, who knows where we would be now, or even if we would be at all? Give him the sack? They should have given him a bloody medal! All I can say is thank God he wasn't a jobsworth!

Incidentally, the Korean Airline's flight number was 007. Spy plane? 007? How bizarre is that!
Crosstalk by Taz: September 2012