History is better analyzed after all the witnesses are dead, but this can lead to a gap in more recent events. Young people today don’t remember the late 20th Century, and they didn’t study this history in school, since it hadn’t yet found its way into their curricula. They don’t have any interest in listening to old-timers either, but this blog medium allows anyone to vent, whether they have an audience or not. For what is worth, here is an outline of the major events that shaped my life from 1938 to 2011. This perspective does provide a rather contrarian take on the present, as the title indicates.
I vaguely recall some incidents from World War II that dominated my parents lives for so long. When I was five, I could still get into our village’s movie free, and walked there alone in those more innocent times. I do vividly remember the US propaganda films that portrayed the war in lurid color. I took a personal interest, because, like most of my playmates, my dad was away from home, fighting in that war. We even saw German POWs picking cotton in our remote Texas countryside; I remember hearing that they were very happy to be out of the war. We helped our cause by buying 25 cent stamps at the post office to stick into a booklet, which could eventually buy a $25 war bond. Some kinds of food, like sugar, were rationed, and I still won’t drink cokes with artificial sweeteners.
When Dad came home, we had only a brief respite before the Cold War came to dominate our lives for decades. Most people think we won that war when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, and the USSR collapsed. Some even credit Ronald Reagan for almost single handedly winning the war, but I have a different recollection. Our enemies in that war included not just the Soviet Union, but also almost equally, the People’s Republic of China. We never actually fought the Soviets, but we fought the Chinese to a bloody draw in Korea. I remember this quite well, because my dad left us again, to go fight the North Koreans and Chinese Communists. And we never defeated them; quite the contrary.
After cooperating for years, the Soviets and ChiComs had a falling out in the 1960s, mainly because they shared a long and disputed border. The Cold War then devolved largely into a three-way confrontation including the US and these two, who had no love for each other. When the USSR disintegrated, the Chinese were able to turn their attention to us. Of course, the main story here is that Deng Xaiopeng simply observed how his neighbors were getting rich by manufacturing for export, and said, “Me, too.” By simply abandoning Mao’s stupid policies, he unleashed the vast energies of the Chinese people, who had prospered everywhere, except in China itself.
Well, from this witness’ perspective, the Chinese are now winning a Cold War that never really ended. If I may say so, I think this is an important insight. At the moment, this is being fought in the economic sector, but I believe the PRC is much more of a national security threat to the US than the USSR ever was.