Sunday, April 16, 2017

Rough Times

The point of "Dr. Strangelove" is that we are ruled by a class of madmen who actually want to blow the world to smithereens. It is their mission in life. "We'll Meet Again" indeed.

This movie was released in 1964, not long after the assassination of President Kennedy (a 20th century pivot point) and just as President Johnson was ramping up the Vietnam War due to the false reports of an NV attack on US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. False reports. It didn't happen, but because killing gooks or whomever is a necessity for new presidents, it was used to justify the escalation of US force in Vietnam regardless.

In Dr. Strangelove's world, such a non-event would be perfect to justify launching the nukes. It didn't matter whether it was real; nuclear annihilation certainly would be. Yippee! We're all gonna die!

Here we are more than 50 years later, and we see a kind of twisted replay is taking place. What actually happened in Syria or N. Korea or any of the other hot spots the US is making hotter doesn't matter a whit. What matters is whether the propaganda sufficiently justifies more bloody business up to and including nuclear annihilation.

For all the unsupported belief that Trump would keep the US out of war while Mrs Clinton was sure to get us into a nuclear war with  Russia post-haste, some of us Boomers actually had an understanding of the mindset of both candidates, where they were coming from when it came to Use of Force. Neither was pristine by any means, and both came of age during the "Dr. Strangelove" era.

I'm sure both saw the movie during the summer or fall of 1964 as well, and they've probably both seen it several times since.

The impression it made on them, however, was probably quite different.

The issue is simple enough. Hillary went to public school in Chicago. Public school students of the era were socialized (and propagandized) to fear Communism and to fear the Bomb more. Ms. Ché and I were in Los Alamos yesterday (home of the nuclear annihilation labs, dontchaknow). She was reading some of her poetry at the White Rock Library. One of her poems deals with the topic of duck and cover, instant incineration, and all of that and what we were trained to do and believe if the final button was pushed. That kind of conditioning stays with you. It doesn't go away. You can't  really free yourself from.

The upshot of it is that you do not push that button no matter what.

In "Dr. Strangelove" of  course, while leaders tried to prevent the catastrophe, the madmen (militaryjakes) had their way anyway, and Oops! Apocalypse ensued.

Trump had a different kind of conditioning and socialization during the era; he was a student at the New York Military Academy, they say because he'd been such a trouble-maker at his previous private school. Yes, well.

NYMA was at the time associated with West Point which was just down the road. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, West Pointers on President Kennedy's staff were advocating launching a nuclear first strike against Cuba and the Soviet Union; "it would be survivable."

Yes, right.

It's always been known that some people would survive an all out nuclear war, and that the ruins would only glow for a relatively short time. Reconstruction might be difficult but it would be possible, and the horror of what happened would eventually fade from the survivors' memories. Life of a sort would go on.

None of this was shared with public school students who were being conditioned in one way regarding the Bomb and its effects, but it was an article of faith in the military and was a kind of doctrine in military schools throughout the country.

That's what Trump was taught. And it looks like he still believes it wholeheartedly.

"You can survive, and it's worth the wreckage." To win.

Trump may or may not try for an alliance with Russia -- I'd say he wants to do it, but the current situation won't allow it. But what would this alliance gain? In alliance, the two most heavily armed nuclear powers would be able to threaten annihilation of any competing power (eg: China) and they would be able to follow through. I think that's the point.

It's not to make peace, it's to threaten and control the rest of the world -- and to destroy it if there is a lack of compliance.

Gangster rule, in other words.

Sounds like a plan, no?

Meanwhile, our military has apparently been given free rein to do as they will wherever they are engaged in combat, and the other day, they dropped the Mother of All Bombs on what they said was a "ISIS cave and tunnel complex" in Afghanistan. Whether or not it was targeted on such a facility and whether or not there were casualties is still a matter of some dispute, much as the missile action against the Syrian airfield was maybe not as effective as it was touted to be -- intentionally.

Both actions, it seems to me, were designed to "message" rivals and enemies: Watch that shit or you're next.

It is unlikely that Mrs Clinton would do this sort of thing so overtly, but you never know.

If the skeptics are right, neither action really did all that much, and the demonstrations of US might may have been counter-productive much as the Special Forces raid in Yemen was.

Massacres for the sake of messaging do not inspire confidence or loyalty.

Bombing just to bomb likewise. Vietnam was a good example of how these things unravel. But lessons learned are soon forgotten.

The nuclear annihilation clock edges closer to midnight.

And there's essentially nothing we, the Rabble, can do about it but hunker down and pray.

Rough times indeed.

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