Reply To: Russia. People from the 90s, tell us what it was like, really?

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Rhys Jaggar


The Cold War broadly ran from 1945 and became formalised with Churchill’s speech about ‘an Iron Curtain descending on our continent’. It ended with the collapse of Communism in the USSR and Eastern European States.

The Cold War was really about the nuclear arms race at its heart. There emerged concepts such as MAD aka Mutually Assured Destruction (in other words, once you have enough nuclear warheads to completely obliterate each other, it doesn’t really matter how many more you have, you are just wasting your money. See it as being like a ram in a field full of pregnant ewes: he can mount them all again 100 times, but to no effect – they are already in lamb.

If you ever get the chance to watch the film ‘War Games’, you will understand the mindset of the time. It is about a teenage rebel who hacked into NORADs central computer system and discovered a game called ‘Global Thermonuclear War’. It was developed by computer whizzkids to try and ‘war game’ all the possible scenarios of nuclear conflict. When the computer acquires ‘independence of thought and action’ all bets become off…..

We of course in the west were told it was a war between ‘freedom’ and ‘communism’. I’m not sure the Central Americans gained ‘freedom’ when the United Fruit Company got the CIA to install friendly satrapies across the region, but there we are. I don’t get the impression that Stalin was a very nice piece of work either, but I wasn’t living there at the time so tend not to comment in too much detail about such matters. I’ve heard more than one ordinary working-class Englishman opine that ‘old Adolf was a minor irritant compared to Joe Stalin when it came to bumping people off en masse.’ I tend to see people gassed in concentration camps as slightly more pre-planned than mass starvation though. Ultimately it happened under Stalin’s watch, but I’m not sure he bumped off all the millions who died under his reign. You could say the same about Chairman Mao, I guess…..d