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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Postapocalypse Now

It is conventional wisdom that the end of the cold war era changed the world stage, and thus our foreign policy, dramatically. We moved from a mass confrontation of organised power to a situation where quick maneuvers and information warfare were necessary.

Instead of doing whatever we could to stall the advance of the Soviets, we were forced to spend the 1990s cleaning up the messes we made while countering the Soviets. We supported Iraq and Bin Laden against Iran and the Soviet cavalry. We have since had to fight the monsters we created. Hussein, while not our creation, would not have been our problem if not for our intervention in 1988.

We have had to deal with North Korea, another Soviet creation. We had to bomb the former Bloc Despot, Milosevic. We have been chasing old warheads around Eastern Europe. We are fighting Marxist rebels in Columbia and waiting for Castro to die in his sleep.

Superficially, these complex diplomatic situations seem entirely unlike the monolithic MAD standoff of the 60s and 70s. In reality, the active confrontations of the Cold War were quite similar to the problems we are facing now. Our improved success in Iraq, Serbia, and Somalia

bad example. Ignore Somalia.

derives from the lack of an opposing superpower and the improved information technology of the US. If we had to refight the Korean War now, there is no doubt that we would win handily. (The nukes pose a slight tactical problem, but China would be more helpful.)

The entire Future Combat System paradigm being implemented in the military could have been useful in the Cold War, had our resources not been consumed in countering the conventional armies of our enemies.

The main point is that our current, ambiguously defined conflict is not entirely different from the day-to-day operations of the Cold War. The most notable parallel is in the use of the Domino Theory, which has been coopted by Bush & Co.

The world once believed that if the USSR could overthrow one country and install a friendly regime, more countries would follow. This idea was partly based on the inevitability of communist revolution, which was the party line in Moscow. This idea is also reasonable if one looks at a map.

The beauty of this theory is not that it worked well for the Soviets. Generally, we countered their offenses. What is interesting is that we have ourselves used the Domino Theory. After liberating Afghanistan and Iraq, Lebanon freed itself. The House of Saud allowed municipal elections. Hamas started running for office in Palestine on a platform of reform, improved city services, and killing Jews.

bad example. Ignore the part about killing Jews.

A lot of other people were like, hey, how come we don't have a democracy? And the neocons were all like, yeah, New World Order! In your faces, hippies! That was in February.

Still, the Domino effect has worked to a certain extent, most notably in Lebanon. In other countries, it's mostly been a PR bonus for freedom.

Anyway, after the Berlin Wall fell, we partied like it was 1999. Especially in 1999. Then a lot of people decided that the only historical lesson we needed to pay attention to was Vietnam. Every conflict is not Vietnam. Enduring Freedom is, but that's purely conincidental.

The reality is that we are currently engaged in an ideological war, just as we were pre-1989. Without a strong and determined adversary, we have gone on the offensive, using economic and military power to spread Western Civilisation.

This message was paid for by the Council for Western Civilisation

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