Cold War Kids

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Kevin Drum cites Paul Kennedy writing about the foolishness of Cold War nostalgia. The part about the risk of total nuclear annihilation really ought to be obvious. But this matters, too:

t is hard to explain to a younger generation that such delightful countries as Greece, Spain, Portugal, Chile, Brazil, South Africa, Poland and Czechoslovakia (to name only a few) were run in those days by fascist generals, avowed racists or one-party totalitarian regimes. I am ancient enough to remember the long list of countries I would not visit for summer holidays; old enough to recall how creepy it was to enter Walter Ulbricht’s East German prison house of a state via Checkpoint Charlie in the late 1960s. Ugh.

This matters, because I think people sometimes underestimate exactly how horrible it would be in humanitarian terms to return to Cold War-style conditions of global competition between the United States and some other power (presumably China ). People often — and correctly — see that the UN Security Council process is often going to be an impediment to certain kinds of humanitarian military ventures and want to just let it all drop. And it’s true that this sort of thing can be frustrating. Ultimately, however, a world where the major powers have cordial, mostly cooperative relations with one another is a much, much better world to live in.