There is so much that was better about life in the 1980s. It was mostly still a high trust society where kids played until it got too dark to see, where being outdoors was more entertaining than being indoors where we didn’t have the internet. The girls were hotter, the guys were more masculine. Entertainment was beginning to be subversive but still was amazing.
Not That Kind Of Nostalgia
One thing that I don’t miss? The looming threat of global thermonuclear war.
The sword of Damocles hanging over us throughout my school-days was that the Cold War would turn hot, someone would do something dumb and we would have to stop our lessons, crawl under our desks and wait to be incinerated. There were plenty of movies about nuclear war in the 80s, from The Terminator where machines use our nukes to trigger a war with Russia to of course Wargames, based on the idea of a new automated system to prevent human’s from failing to “turn the key” that almost launches a global thermonuclear war as a game.
The most vivid part of that movie to me is in the very beginning where the one officer takes his hand off the launch key and the other officer pulls his revolver, cocks it and tells him “Turn your key sir”. Not great cinema but it shook me up as a kid.
When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, the threat of nuclear war evaporated overnight. Russia was our friend now, experiencing all of the joys of unfettered globalist capitalism. Hooray! My children never lived under the low key terror of everything ending. To them nuclear war was something that made for an interesting universe for video games like the Fallout series, but it wasn’t anything they really expected to worry about. While we have had manufatcured scares like bogus WMDs in Iraq, a nuclear program in Iran and Rocket Man in North Korea shooting rockets into the Pacific, it wasn’t the life-ending calamity of a full scale exchange between the Russkies and the U.S.
31 years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and here we are again and worse, it is more real than at any point in my lifetime. Not since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 has the world been this close to the edge, the edge of nuclear war. All because of a regional conflict that has taken on a life of it’s own.
Most Americans don’t really think about our nuclear arsenal. It is out of sight, out of mind for almost everyone. You don’t see the Ohio-class nuclear submarines prowling below the waves. Few of us live near the strategic air bases where B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 stealth bombers are stationed. Most of our land-based ICBMs are understandably located in thinly populated places like the Great Plains. My first job out of college was in Cheyenne, Wyoming which is home to the F.E. Warren Air Force base, one of the main hubs for our ICBM forces and the base for the 90th Missile Wing operating Minuteman III ICBMs. I had some young enlisted Air Force mechanics working for me part-time, one of their major duties was to be on-call when trucks were moving ICBMs around in case one broke down. Even still, most Americans have at the back of their mind the security of knowing that the nuclear arsenal is out there and still acting as a deterrent. I believe that absent the nuclear deterrent, there would have been a third World War in Europe last century that would have devastated Europe beyond repair.
While the world’s nuclear arsenal is greatly diminished, it is still enormous.
That assumes that the nukes work of course, when you read articles like this: Inside the $100 Billion Mission to Modernize America’s Aging Nuclear Missiles, it makes you wonder if the birds would fly should the order come down from Pedo Joe.
The entire ICBM fleet runs on less computational power than what’s now found inside the smartphone in your pocket….
….The order would appear on Moffett’s glitching trichromatic monitor via a computer program that still relies on floppy disks, initiating a series of steps to launch the missiles. A terminal countdown sequence would begin after a machine translated the digital signal from the command hub into an analog signal that the 50-year-old receiver inside a missile silo could recognize.
The pictures look a lot like what we saw in WarGames, and it certainly seems like most of the ICBMs anyway are operating on equipment older than me. Even still I assume that if the word came down, most of the birds would fly on both sides. What might that look like? Princeton did a simulation a few years back and the big exchange is pretty grim.
You can watch the whole thing here:
As a “prepper” of sorts, much as I dislike that term, a global thermonuclear war is the grand-daddy of them all. We all have a kind of spectrum in our heads from localized civil unrest all the way to nuclear war. Like the rest of my brethren who anticipate and are planning for TEOTWAWKI, my main goal is to survive along with my family so we can hopefully rebuild. But in the event of a nuclear war of that scale? Princeton estimates initial casualties to be pretty high, all in Europe, Russia and the U.S….
While we are not in a strategically valuable area, the scenario above includes “the countervalue plan” coming after the initial strategic strikes would target the 30 most populated areas and economic centers to “inhibit” recovery. Being in the industrial heartland is bad news and of the 30 largest U.S. cities, Indianapolis (15th) is two hours away (SW). Columbus, Ohio (14th) is about three hours away to the southeast. Chicago (3rd) is 3 1/2 hours away, slightly NW. Detroit (27th) and Louisville (28th) to the northeast and south respectively are three hours from us. In other words we are neatly bracketed by likely strikes.
So even though I ordered some potassium iodide tablets this morning, I am pretty sure that we won’t survive for long if there is a full-fledged nuclear war. Nor do I really want to. My wife and I talked about this last night, is there much of a point to “surviving” a nuclear war in order to be “not dead” until the cancer or radioactive zombies finally get you? What children are born will be at enormous risk of birth defects and cancer.
This is not the future we were promised. The end of the Cold War was supposed to mean an endless era of peace and prosperity. Instead we got a “global war on terror” abroad and an utter degradation of our culture domestically, accompanied by a cataclysmic slow moving genocide of Whites in Europe and America. To top it off we are careening toward the brink of a nuclear war.
We get all of the bad stuff from the 1980s and none of the good. That isn’t the kind of nostalgia I was hoping for.