The New Cold War

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With Russian nationalism on the rise, troops and armor massed on the border of the Ukraine, and vitriolic rhetoric burning up the airwaves between Moscow and Washington, there is little doubt that the Cold War is once again very real. Russia has at least three thousand deliverable nuclear weapons, and the United States has somewhere around that number– more than enough to plunge the word into a nuclear winter. There seems to be the perception that the old Cold War doctrines of “Mutually assured destruction,” or MAD, and detente have fallen by the wayside and are no longer relevant, but that is not the case. The world is still a scary place, and right now, it’s the scariest it’s been since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The problem stems not only from the leadership,but from the people.

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In the United States, President Obama is frequently called weak by the opposition. A casual stroll through social media will reveal a myriad of memes and posts declaring that the Commander in Chief is afraid of Putin, and that the United States should be doing more, whether in the Middle-East, or in Crimea. Conversely, within Russia, Putin is trying to shore up support for himself, and is appealing to lingering vestiges of pride many Russians still feel about the Soviet Union. This is a recipe for disaster. Two leaders squaring off with nuclear weapons, trying to prove a point.

Putin’s overly virile posturing, chest thrusting, bombastic aggressiveness might be laughable in other circumstances, yet the hawks within the U.S. seem to fixate on Putin’s pushiness and conclude that by comparison, President Obama is a weakling. Many of these people, including some of our elected officials, seem to think putting boots on the ground in Eastern Europe is a wonderful idea, that the United States should send more Aircraft Carriers into the region, including the Black Sea, and perhaps threaten direct military action backed by airstrikes and missiles. These hawks within the United States seem to have never cracked a history book, and they continue to howl about Obama’s capitulations, weakening the administration further, reducing our ability to act in a sensible fashion and further emboldening Russia. It’s ironic, and maddening. The notion that political dissension stops at the borders and does not extend to foreign policy is one of those Cold War rules that has indeed fallen away, and this makes the current international situation more volatile.

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Yet the U.S. has imposed the toughest economic sanctions against Russia since the Cold War (technically) ended. The United States has two carrier groups in the region, and recently sent ships into the Black Sea.

Russian fighter jets buzzed a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea, flying at a mere five hundred feet above the deck. Russian long range bombers have frequently violated U.S. airspace off the coast of Alaska. Subs carrying nuclear weapons engage in games of cat and mouse beneath the oceans, just off our shores. We can hope clear heads prevail. We can pray that some twenty-year-old sailor or pilot or soldier doesn’t make a mistake, a single push of a button which could unleash World War Three. That’s how it starts.

A global nuclear war will make all other wars in human history seem tame by comparison. What keeps me awake at night is that many people seem to have forgotten this.

Enjoy the Apocalypse!

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Choices

From my novel in progress, The Tears of Abraham

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Sometimes, bad decisions change little beyond the moment, and a wrong turn is merely that– a left which should have been a right. Often, though, a bad choice builds momentum and mass and creates its own gravity and destructive physics until the present, future, and the past are distorted and corrupted. Loving the wrong woman is like that.

It’s the hunger of the stone seeking rock bottom. The splash and the inevitable descent and weight of consequence dragging and drowning the laughter of young dreams deeper and darker into the mud and the choking abyss of mediocrity, irrelevance, and then oblivion. The ripples on the surface of the waters have no memory. 

 

 

 

 

The War Within

This is a great article

Soonest Mended

By Mika Kasuga

I was a little bemused when I saw that the NSA scandal caused sales of 1984, George Orwell’s masterpiece, to rise more than 3,000 percent.  Although it warms my heart to see exponential book sales – for a title that isn’t Fifty Shades, too – the world that Orwell imagined has not come to pass.

 In 1984, the figure of Big Brother watches over the citizens of Oceania, enforcing total obedience to the following maxims:

 WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

 Antonyms can be synonyms, if Big Brother makes it so: by reconciling opposites, the official language of Big Brother, called Newspeak, aims to diminish the range of thought and make insubordination impossible. Whether Oceania is at war,  against whom, and why  is irrelevant. Orwell’s dystopic vision is rooted in opposition, in the assumption that only an outside threat can…

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Sneak Peek… Children of Wrath

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Being a hero in the eyes of my children was far more important to me than the adulation I’ve received over the years for getting shot and stabbed and being any sort of a leader. The memories that keep me warm on snowy winter nights here in Yellowstone are of times when I was a real hero. I remember my son Ryder and his little sister Grace on Christmas morning gazing with wide eyed wonder at the presents under the tree while a fire cracked and popped in a log cabin steeped to the roof in drifts. I hold those perfect moments close to me, those fleeting times that were really gifts my children gave to me. I can now open them like a book, and I turn back the years to see that look of amazement they rewarded me with when I lifted a heavy log, carved a bow, or brought home a wolf cub. I wrap myself in those precious memories like a warm bison blanket to keep the cold at bay and stave off the lingering chill of things I would rather forget.

The winter Ryder turned nine, Grace was six, and the cold was bitter and long. Maybe with the telling of it, these many years later, forgiveness will find me and I can draw close and smile.

The Fall obliterated humanity about sixteen years before that season; the bombs and pestilence that followed The Fall pushed us to the brink of the abyss, but we managed to survive. In the nine years we had been in the west, the scattered groups of survivors inhabiting the region enjoyed relative peace and security. It was a time of rebirth and renewal, and my best memories live there still. The weaponized fungus we had come to call Tarantula still thrived in the warmer regions, but the cold of the north kept it at bay. We were full of hope, though we bore the wounds of the past. We believed we had made it through the worst of it.

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I was then not yet thirty, and still very much in my prime, my hair dark and short, with not a hint of the white beard and long mane I now wear. “You look like Noah,” Crystal jokes these days. “What happened to my sculpted David, my Greek hero?” She laughs and there is no malice in it; the gray is earned and I wear it with the cantankerousness of an old Grizzly baring his yellowed fangs over a kill, long of tooth and the gold fading, but still dangerous. I was much more dangerous then. I stood six feet four inches, was broad of shoulder and narrow of hip, and I was strong. Hazel eyes, still bright with hope then, before they were faded and dimmed by sadness, which still burned with a zest for life.

“You’re old beyond your years,” I recall Crystal saying back then. “Such an old soul.” But really, I think that was all of us.

Hero of My Own Life

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Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

This is the opening line from my favorite Charles Dickens book, David Copperfield. The line pierced me when I read it back in high school, again in college, and now, as a forty-five year old man with more life in the rear-view than on the horizon. In my youth, the line held promise and exhortation and there was joy in reading it. Now, though, it feels different. I’m more than halfway through, and I am a hollow hero at my best, anti-hero perhaps, and villain at my worst. My own characters, the heroes, would despise me. I’ve been stabbed, shot at, punched and hurt. I’ve squandered love and money and friendship and decades for the idea that I was that hero in my own story, some kind of Harlan Howard, Steinbeck, Hemingway creation, and well… No. The story is mine, and there are no heroes. Maybe God should have been, but he wasn’t. I tried, and I guess if He wanted to then it would have been more apparent who the hero was.

It ain’t over yet. I’d love to see something spectacular. I’d love to see a hero.