Tag: Cold War

Scenes From my Front Porch


The thing about living in a place with four seasons — bear with me, I spent about 80 percent of my life in California — is that the beginning of spring is inevitably frantic. As the trees bloom, all your rationales for putting off home improvements start to wilt. And so, at the Senik household, there’s been a parade of contractors, plumbers, handymen, and the like ascending the hill in recent days.

After awhile, they become virtually indistinguishable from one another. Each explains, with the thinly-veiled contempt of a teacher that should have retired years ago, highly technical concepts in impenetrable jargon that bounces off my skull like a bird flying into a window. Each next proceeds to request an amount of money that would imply they’ve taken one of my family members hostage. Each then dutifully gets paid because…well, I’m a writer. The odds are pretty good that my death will be premature, but I’ll be damned if it’s going to happen on my roof.

‘Viktor’ was different. Him I’ll remember.

Time To Dust Off Nuclear Deterrence


Dr._StrangeloveSince the Cold War ended a quarter century ago, we haven’t learned to love the Bomb, but we have stopped worrying about it. As the Obama administration insists on driving the entire Middle East toward nuclear weapons, we had better start worrying about it again. A good place to start may be to dust off the concept of deterrence and re-familiarize ourselves with it.

What is deterrence?

Deterrence is a strategy of using the threat of military punishment to dissuade an aggressor from attempting to achieve his objectives. A defender deters his opponent by convincing him that any expected gains from his aggression will be outweighed by the punishment he will suffer. A threshold assumption underlying the logic of deterrence is that the aggressor is “rational,” in the sense that his military means are reasonably related to his political goals and he acts based on a comparison of expected gains to potential costs.

Member Post


The parallels between Kennedy’s first year as president and Obama’s entire first term are eerie: presidencies preceded by divisive campaigns against the “old way of doing things,” rejections of lessons already learned about the use of power, and the dangers of a rudderless America trying to retreat from the world stage. There is no doubt […]

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The 80s Called



A popular debate tactic for Team Chicago in the election of 2012 was to paint Mitt Romney as an Etch a Sketch candidate eager to return the world to a Cold War stalemate even as he warned of the serious consequences of an administration more interested in counting spilled toothpicks. Barack Obama addressing growing threats in Moscow, Iran, Afghanistan, the West Bank, and Central America took a back seat to hilarious one-liners referencing Gordon Gekko and Ivan Drago.

Except Mitt Romney was right and everyone now knows he was right.

Member Post


Mr. Robinson’s been mentioning for quite a while the book about the Cold War he’s currently working on.  Being not only a child of the Cold War but also an avid reader on the subject, I’d really like to hear more about what he’s doing and what approach he’s taking.  I’m sure others would as […]

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Budapest Journal: One Two Three


My last night in Budapest was terrific. At a remarkably preserved 1930’s Art Deco movie house on the Buda side of town, the Danube Institute held a screening of Billy Wilder’s breakneck comedy One Two Three.

It’s a Cold War comedy, set in 1961 before the Wall came up — awkwardly, the Berlin Wall was constructed during the filming, requiring the entire unit to decamp to Munich to finish the shoot. And it’s about as politically incorrect as imaginable. James Cagney stars in what was to be his final film, until the small role in Ragtime 20 years later.

Missing Communism (A Bit) — by Steve Manacek


The unfolding drama in the Ukraine brings back memories — for those of us old enough to remember it — of the bad old era of Brezhnev and the Evil Empire. But also a certain nostalgia. Because, in those days, the badness of the USSR was understood — by most people not living on university campuses — to flow in large part directly from its (leftist) ideology. If the State is responsible for everything, then the State can do anything — and ultimately will.

While the better sort of classical liberals — the Moynihans — took care to point out that they believed there were things the State should not be responsible for, most ordinary people intuitively understood that if you pushed leftism beyond a certain point, bad things would happen. In effect, the Soviet Union stood as a kind of grim specter behind leftism, providing an ever-present reality check to liberal visions of the beneficent State. Whenever the true nature of the Soviet Union intruded into the consciousness of large numbers of Americans, conservatives, while sincerely empathizing with whoever the victims were, at least had the satisfaction of seeing their core beliefs validated, their ideas, arguments, and personalities taken a bit more seriously, and those of their opponents to some degree discredited.