What Was the Cold War?

In WWII the Germans ran into Russia killing everyone they found. They destroyed entire villages, an entire way of life. In some parts of Russia one in four people died. Every family was affected.

However, the Germans awakened a sleeping giant. And when U.S. General George Patton realized just how big Russia was, he wanted our army to march right through Germany and into Russia to get at them while they were still recovering from Germany’s predations. There was a big antisemitic component to this that I don’t wish to go into at this time.

Remember that at the same time we were taking back Europe, we were also fighting in the Pacific theater. Japan was throwing Mitsubishi Zeros at us – yup, made by the same company that makes cars and Three Diamonds tuna. The kamakazi pilots literally committed suicide by ramming our ships with planes. They had already been at war with China for years before Pearl Harbor and they were pretty much tapped out.

Kamakazi means “divine wind” after a Chinese attack that was thwarted by high winds in the Sea of Japan.

Despite the fact that we had pretty much won against Japan, in 1949 we dropped atomic bombs on two important cities. Not on the Mitsubishi plant where Zeros were manufactured but a few miles away on a city full of civilians.

Why???

To impress the Russians that we were technologically superior.

The Russians hurried up to create their own atomic bomb. We upgraded to hydrogen bombs, which use an atomic bomb as an igniter. Russia upgraded.

The government created a big Communism scare to get the American people to fund this massive effort. We used smaller nations as proxies to test our technology against other countries that acted as Russia’s proxies.

We engaged in a “space race” that started with Russia’s Sputnik satellite in 1957 and culminated in our first steps on the moon in 1969.

Both of us developed Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Systems (ICBMs) to deliver nukes. We both developed sophisticated anti-nuke systems to shoot down ICBMs. We had enough missiles to destroy each other 30 times over – this is called “overkill.”

In 1962, JFK had a standoff with Russia’s Khrushchev over missile sites in Cuba, just 90 miles away from the US. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest we ever came to Thermonuclear Armageddon.

In the 1980’s President Reagan wanted to fill the sky with killer satellites. My favorite idea was “Rods of God,” in which satellites would carry up huge titanium rods that they could drop out of the sky on our enemies. These people were so wrapped up in it that they’d destroy the world if they had to.

Needless to say, we had a worldwide spy network to keep tabs on all this.

Fortunately for us, and devastatingly for the citizens of the USSR, they ran out of money before we did. I guess that means we won, but winning put the US so far in debt to foreign investors that we’ll still be paying it for another generation.

War, even a Cold War, is expensive.

That’s the cold war, the technological rivalry. We never actually fired a shot at each other, but we spent 40 years trying to prove our cajones were bigger than theirs.

Putin seems to trying to reconstitute the old Soviet Union. This time around, we’ve already thrown billions of dollars at the non-war in the Middle East and it is crumbling our economy. I don’t know where it will go.

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