August 18, 2007

The MAD World Returns

August 18 (from the Los Angeles Times) -Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Friday reinstatement of the Soviet-era practice of having nuclear bombers routinely fly long-distance flights that bring them within striking distance of the United States and its allies.

"Today, just after midnight, 14 strategic missile aircraft, with support and fuel planes, took off from seven airfields across Russia," Putin said in televised remarks.

The White House sought to play down the Russian action, insisting that the resumption of flights did not indicate a worsening of relations or present a new strategic threat to the United States.


Well I assume then, that the planes will return automatically once they reach their failsafe points.


Well, sir, I'm afraid not. You see the planes were holding at their failsafe points when the go code was issued. Now, once they fly beyond failsafe they do not require a second order to proceed. They will fly until they reach their targets.


Then why haven't you radioed the planes countermanding the go code?


Well, I'm afraid we're unable to communicate with any of the aircraft.

(from "Dr. Strangelove," by Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, and Peter George.)


Oh come on, admit it. It doesn't make you unpatriotic at all. Your nervous system has been conditioned to Mutually Assured Destruction, and you were feeling a little disoriented, that's all. You're kind of glad that Putin, former KGB operative, is back in the nuclear game. The good news is that the Russian resumption of strategic bomber flights includes the Chinese, so now the assurance of destruction is...well, it's never been such a sure thing, put it that way. Granted, a little permutation crunching (as Buck Turgidson might have said) reveals that the addition of a third player to a game of nuclear Russian Roulette doesn't increase the danger by 50% (3 represents a 50% increase over 2, you're maybe thinking). Uh-uh. Ask Dr. Strangelove, as he twists sideways in his wheel chair, fits another cigarette into its black holder and stares at you with those dark photo-grays. Here are the possible misunderstandings: 1. Russia mistakes U.S. intentions, launches nuclear attack. 2. U.S. mistakes Russian intentions, launches nuclear attack. 3. Russia mistakes Chinese intentions, launches nuclear attack. 4. U.S. mistakes Chinese intentions, launches nuclear attack. 5. China mistakes Russian intentions, launches nuclear attack. 6. China mistakes U.S. intentions, launches nuclear attack. Oh, and while George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are in office, we have lucky #7: U.S. launches nuclear attack.

Let me tell you how you were unpatriotic. Remember those huge Ford Exterminator and Cadillac Escalation SUVs you were so fond of when you could still afford to gas them up? They made Russia rich. They made so much money selling oil they could afford to refurbish their bomber wings and build a lot more multi-megaton hydrogen bombs. So what was the point of Reagan bankrupting the U.S. by building up our military in order to bankrupt the Soviet Union by forcing it to build up its military? That's ...mad.

I think Vladimir is just pissed off because of two things. First, Bush is taller than he is. That's a rare thing, in international relations, but lately L'il George has been on a hot streak. Sarkozy, Gordon Brown, Vlad -- Bush could dunk over all of them, if he could dunk. I'm almost certain Angela Merkel could blow by W. and jam it home, but we'll never find out. The second thing Putin is testy about is Bush's anti-missile bases sitting right on the Russian border, which are designed to protect the U.S. and "the West" (Bush is never too subtle) from Iranian nuclear missiles. Putin has been undiplomatic enough to point out that Iran doesn't have any nuclear missiles because they don't have any nuclear bombs. Then he goes on to say that these "anti-missile" installations can also be "offensive" missile sites, and they're sitting right on top of Russia, reducing Russia's reaction time to say,... 12 seconds. Not to mention one other major irritant, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), which Bush unilaterally abrogated soon after taking office on the ground it was so 20th Century.

Well, guess what. The 20th Century, in stunning black and white, is back. It's all here again, baby. The fail-safe points. The inflight refueling. The sweeping radar. The flight crews waiting for the go code. The backyard bomb shelters. And for sixteen months or so, we're going to have all this and George W. Bush too. Duck and cover.

No comments:

Post a Comment