The Cold War era and the concomitant development of nuclear weapons is quite possibly mankind's most shining moment of insanity. Whenever I revisit this time period I am immensely depressed and horrified by the fact that mankind was stupid enough to invest trillions of dollars in a weapon that not only promoted proliferation, but insured massive devastation on innocent populations and, potentially, the complete annihilation of the entire human race and planet, 15 times over, in a matter of minutes and in a manner that was more horrific, more barbaric, and more hellish than ever before.
It's almost impossible for me to comprehend, or even understand for that matter, the mindset of this era, but it seems pretty obvious that the hypnotic trance of fear played a huge role in stirring up the passions of the masses, allowing the decisions of the few, who played on this fear, to bring us ever closer to putting the final period in the final chapter of mankind's history.
As Bertrand Russell so applicably put it "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision." The more I have looked back at each war during the 20th and now in the 21st century the more I have noticed a general pattern and, moreover, a particular group of individuals who have consistently and persistently stoked the embers of fear by amplifying some imminent threat that the United States' very existence is threatened by. These dark henchmen of war are individuals who we have become particularly familiar with, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, and Paul Wolfowitz, who are the most hawkish of hawks and seem to absolutely despise diplomacy and multilateral institutions.
Most people have become intimately aware of how this goon squad managed to get us into Iraq by using the proven methods of fear and intelligence manipulation that they had used in the past dating back to the Cold War, as Richard Rhodes points out in his new book Arsenals of Folly, which he discusses with Joseph Cirincione in the most recent bloggingheads.tv diavlog. I knew that the neocons had been around, prodding past presidents before current president Bush to go to war, like convincing hesitant President Clinton to intervene in Bosnia, but I didn't realize just how far back their influence went.
I highly recommend everyone watch the entire diavlog between Rhodes and Cirincione, because it truly is fascinating to see the consistent techniques used by the neocons and how time and time again their constructed and obviously imagined threats were consistently wrong. Like, for instance, the super-silent soviet submarine that the US didn't have any intelligence on as to its existence, which they then argued proved that it clearly existed because it defied our detection capabilities...Cirincione provides a great quote from Rumsfeld who said "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
That is why I can't stand the fact that three of these dark henchmen are still running our foreign policy. They discredit and dismiss any intelligence or evidence that does not fit into their objectives, they manipulate intelligence to support their objectives, and they amplify the fear of some looming threat, in the past communism, today terrorism, which allows them to take the reigns of American foreign policy in a way that I think does not benefit the United States. When you think about the amount of money we spend on our military budget because of these continually over-hyped and amplified fears of some existential threat--which, ironically enough, usually makes that threat much larger than it had previously been--its absolutely depressing, because you imagine what kinds of things those trillions of dollars could actually be used for. Instead of investing in more war, more instability, and more human devastation, we could use that money to build up our infrastructure at home, improve our crumbling bridges, improve our school systems, and other social and economic programs, which actually benefit the paying tax payers and citizens of America.
I can't wait until the three guys still left retire, because for once the United States might actually get to enjoy the comforts of peace. We might actually get to restore our crumbling country, because we will stop spending millions on our military budget in an effort to fight some over-hyped enemy, which is always fruitless, almost like trying to fight the wind (except we spend billions of dollars developing weapons which attempt to do so). Hopefully the aforementioned 'masters of war' have been outed and realized for who they are and what they are extremely good at doing, and the people who have previously followed their advice (and their own emotions) will start to question their judgment and not fall victim to the perils of group think...Though I guess it's only to unfortunate that it is only now being realized, when they are mere years away from having to leave office anyways. The damage has obviously been done, but perhaps we can make a palliative effort to repair what we can, and accept some of the problems that we deserve, and in this effort we will hopefully be able to recast America's image abroad, and improve our relations amongst our former allies, because the 'go at it alone' approach clearly wasn't very successful.