Will Durst: Frigid fracas
After an absence of 25 years, it’s downright ducky to be able to welcome back one of the great socio- politico conflicts in the history of the planet. How about a round of applause folks, because the Cold War is back and it’s colder and warrier than ever.
Like an old friend popping up on your doorstep after moving to South America or Akron a quarter century ago, it is with a mixture of exhilaration and dread to see him again. All the right words are mouthed: “No, YOU look exactly the same,” but inside you’re praying he’s just here for a quick visit and no extended stay. “So, what are your plans?”
To MI6, the British Intelligence Foreign Section Division, the Cold War was an extension of a conflict with Russia that began in the early 19th Century. To we USAers, it was a post WWII battle for the eternal soul of mankind. But it doesn’t matter what you call it: Great Game, Frigid Fracas, Siberian Skirmish: the Cold War is guaranteed to ice your nerves and frost your sense of security. Freeze dried tension. Refrigerated Tang with a shot of paranoia.
Now that the mumps, measles and polio are on the comeback trail as well, the Teens are starting to look like the 50s all over again. The future will be televised in black and white; comforting we early Baby Boomers who always remained skeptical of that whole multi- hued thing. And like the Twilight Zone was scarier in black and white, so was Nikita Khrushchev. As was Speedy, the Alka- Seltzer mascot.
The return of this Arctic Animus means all sorts of retro activities accompanying it; saber rattling. Nuclear standoffs. Propaganda, espionage. One inch wide ties. Poisoned tipped umbrellas and exploding cigars- right around the corner. And Hula Hoops, only now they come with an app.
This won’t be your father’s ideological confrontation however. No longer a showdown between Democracy and Communism, because that fight is history like shag carpeting. Russians may dream of Mother Russia but everybody else in the world wants to be Americans.
Besides, many more opportunities for corruption exist in a democracy than socialism. Who knew? And the Super Powers have gone the way of Howdy Doody and penny candy. Less relevant than chrome bumpers and tinfoil covered rabbit ears.
No, this is more like that boxing movie Hollywood recently released with Stallone and DeNiro. Two aging Mediocre Powers trying to rekindle a dubiously remembered time gone by in an age where you can watch Indonesian soap operas on your eyeglasses while walking over the street in an air conditioned skyway.
Putin ostensibly sent troops into Crimea because he was worried about the rights of its citizens. Putin. Worried about the rights of others. Unh- hunh. Real similar to a bobcat worried about a poodle’s breakfast. A shark concerned with breakfast’s feelings. Bacteria worried over spoiling breakfast. Ask the Chechens about Mister KGB standing up for people’s rights. Or Pussy Riot.
And while the world retreats into a circle around the two combatants, Putin and Obama are busy picking teams for their recycled rivalry. Considering the playground nature of this squabble, wouldn’t be surprised if it came down to shirts and skins. Pretty sure Putin is going to choose skins.
Will Durst can be contacted at email@example.com.