Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Not Another Cold War

By Cap'n O

JUNE 21, 1999:  Now that China has stolen our secrets about how to make city-busting nuclear warheads as small as midgets, there have never been so many furrowed brows among this nation's professional worriers.

Pundits, TV babblers, and anyone else trying to pass themselves off as serious thinkers are asking this question of our fearless leaders and of each other:

Now that the sneaky Reds have stolen our nuke secrets, will there be another Cold War and another arms race like the kind we had with the Rooskies?

They sometimes speak in whispers, as if the questions are too terrible to ponder.

Our leaders, some of whom looked the other way while the Reds were stealing our nuke secrets, are answering gravely that they hope there won't be another Cold War.

They should calm down. There won't be another Cold War or arms race.

That's because this is a much different situation than we had with the Russians after World War II, and it's different from the relationship we had with the Chinese in the '50s and '60s.

We stockpiled more than 20,000 nukes in the Cold War and were ready to turn Eurasia and Asia into an irradiated wasteland because the Rooskies and the ChiComs scared the hell out of us. We were terrified of them. And we should have been.

The vodka-swilling Russians were set on taking over the planet. That would have meant gulags in Siberia for many. But even more frightening, it would have meant a Russian diet for everyone -- cabbage, beets and potatoes; beets, cabbage and potatoes; potatoes, cabbage and beets; and beets, potatoes and cabbage. There would have been a marble-sized tomato and melted snow thrown in once in a while, but Lord, in some months it would have been cabbage, cabbage and more cabbage.

The late anthropologist Alfonso Ortiz, who spent time in Siberia doing anthropological research, reflected on the horror of this upon his return to the U.S. one autumn.

"If I never see another potato, it will be too soon," the terrified Ortiz told his students.

Same thing with the ChiComs. They also wanted to take over the world. All we knew about them at the time was that they ate rice. We feared they would have made everyone else in the world eat rice 15 times a day. And they ate seaweed, too. And seaweed is what fish eat.

These two world menaces would have done away with our cherished hotdogs, bologna, rib-eyes, T-bones, Porterhouses, Virginia hams, french fries, potato chips, pork sausages and Thanksgiving Day turkeys. And think of what might not have been. That greatest of American corporations, McDonald's, started up during the Cold War. Had we not stood down the enemy we might never have seen the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder with cheese and all of their fast-food burger cousins.

The frozen TV dinner was invented at the height of and flourished during the Cold War. Americans I knew got hysterical when confronted with the possibility that they might someday find heads of frozen cabbage and pieces of seaweed in their tinfoil pans instead of a breast of greasy, soggy fried chicken.

The threat of such dietary carnage set us to building nukes the size of boxcars. But if there was one thing that made us want to push the buttons that would send our rockets whizzing over the Arctic Circle, it was the threat those two outlaw nations posed to our sense of fashion.

Although the peasant garb that constituted the national dress of these countries became popular here in the late '60s, in the '50s it was a visual attack on the psyche and values of an upwardly mobile nation that would someday see the Dow crack 11,000. In America, we put potatoes and grain in burlap sacks, not people.

But that has changed. We no longer fear the Russians and Chinese as we once did.

The Rooskies have expanded their diet to include turnips, and who wouldn't kill for a plate of expertly prepared Moo-Shoo Pork? And besides, these people now crave our food.

So fear not. There won't be another arms race. Not unless they try to take away our Slim Jims.

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