The Paranoia Chronicles, v3

Kind of difficult to know where to begin right now, because it feels like deja vu all over again.

Like “Hey, Dude! Welcome back to the 60s,” ya know? “Peace and Love, ya know?”

How many of you remember “duck and cover” drills? If you were in school in October of ’62 you surely do. When Khrushchev first sent IRBMs to Cuba and the world held its breath? So…wait one…you don’t know what an IRBM is? Well then, that means you probably missed the 60s.

So, welcome to the party!

Because we got your ICBMs, these being the really big missiles called Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, then we got your IRBMs (Intermediate Range) and your SLBMs (Sea Launched), then we got you Mark 61 freefall bombs and whole arsenals of short to medium range nuclear tipped missiles and rockets carried by all manner of aircraft, and we’ve even got your nuclear tipped howitzer rounds and even funkier nuclear grenade sized warheads that can be fired by troops on the battlefield. Yes, our nuclear weapons designers have been busy little beavers!

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I mean, really. Since 1964, when perhaps coincidentally Dr Strangelove came out, nuclear annihilation has kind of been where it’s at, especially for the power elite in Moscow and Washington. It’s where the big bucks are, I guess. They’re the ultimate status symbol, the plaything of the really rich and famous. “Look at me! I’ve got a nuclear football! Don’t mess with me or I’ll really rain on your parade!”

Which was where MAD was supposed to come in. It was our…Trump card…

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MAD, as in Mutually Assured Destruction. You nuke me and guess what? I’ll nuke you too, but two times over. MAD meant a stable, almost predictable relationship between the Soviet Union and NATO. MAD was, and is still predicated on the idea that no sane leader would ever dare invoke a nuclear exchange because the results are so dire. Go watch a video on nuclear fallout patterns or the specifics of nuclear winter and see if you can sleep tonight.

But an idea predicated on sane leadership has never some up against a leadership caste that believes to its core that a nuclear war is winnable, and that’s what we’re running up against in Ukraine. Right out the door Prince Vlad started rattling the nuclear saber, and that has been very, very bad news to those of us who see no upside to a thousand rad exposure to ionizing nuclear radiation. That kind of suntan will seriously ruin your day.

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But Ukraine is a done deal, the sacrificial goat, the canary in our coal mine. Ukraine is where we analyze the Russian war machine. Where we send all kinds of SIGINT aircraft to analyze Russian radar emissions, to watch their command and control networks in action, so when the real war starts – and start it will – we’ll know how to grind the Russian war machine to a quick and decisive halt. Because if we can’t, well, that’s when the real fun starts. That’s the long game Putin has been playing. This is the reason why Putin put so much into getting Trump elected in the first place. Divide and Conquer, right.

Boy, did that work out well, or what?

So the paranoid streak running rampant through my mind says we are sleep walking our way right into World War Three. We sat back and watched Prince Vlad while the Greek Chorus sang seductive songs of Peace In Our Time and, well, we got a little complacent. Trump help convince the White Nationalists in our midst that Prince Vlad was The One True Savior, and Steven Seagal fans everywhere rejoiced in a silent night. Trump belittled NATO as a bunch of deadbeats as he sang his siren’s song of Hate to authoritarians in Hungary and to the leaders of rightist parties all over Europe. He wrote love letter to the fat kid in North Korea while he pissed on the Japanese. He weakened us, because, well, that’s what Putin wanted him to do. Mission accomplished,

And so, now here we are. Tucker Carlson is calling the shots and Steve Bannon is helping run the Packers power sweep. Again. They’re dividing us, again. When we should be uniting we are being divided – by people enthralled by Prince Vlad.

And this is why war is inevitable. It’s inevitable because we’re playing by the rules in Putin’s playbook, not ours. Putin is acting, and we’re reacting. Never a good idea when nuclear weapons are involved.

So, do you know where it’s all going to go down? Where our little world is going to turn sideways? Well, ever heard of the The Suwalki Corridor? Read the linked article if interested, because it’s an eye opener, but the Cliff Notes version is this: the corridor is a 65 km wide swath of Poland that borders Lithuania. Cut off that corridor and NATO can no longer directly resupply the Baltic States (because Belarus sits on one side of the corridor and Kaliningrad is on the other). Both are Russian proxies. And when the next war starts it will start when Prince Vlad decides to continue his restoration of Greater Russian Glory by annexing Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, i.e., the Baltic States, and taking the corridor in his opening move of the second phase of his war.

With Russia now shooting journalists in Ukraine and about to declare martial law at home, smart Russians are heading for the exits. And the closest exit is Finland. Hundreds, if not thousands of Russians are lining up at border crossings on the Finnish border, trying to get out before the net closes. My guess? These people remember the Greater Russian Glory of the Gulag system and want no part of it, but hey, that’s just me.

And what happens when the Finnish parliamentarians decide they want into NATO? What happens when Prince Vlad says no to that? Care to guess?

Hey…I’m just sayin’…

Watch this video and tell me what your first reaction is when watching (and watch through to the end, please):

It is difficult to watch this clip without thinking the worst has already happened, but this was “just” a so-called thermobaric weapon, or a so-called fuel-air bomb. Their use is illegal, but hell, so is war. Then again, that little piece of work did just fine when we went into Iraq, but that was illegal too and some estimates put the number of civilian dead in that war at one million, plus or minus. And some fairly articulate people have made the case that a couple of American politicians should be considered war criminals. And hey, we Americans used thermobaric weapons in Afghanistan to bomb cave complexes, so you kind of have to consider that what goes around comes around. That Irony can come up from behind and bite you on the ass, but then again cave complexes are not European cities.

These are strange times. It’s 2022 and here we are thinking about the unthinkable again, like living under the threat of these hideous weapons for forty years wasn’t enough. Here we sit, fat dumb and happy and living under the most peaceful, let alone the most prosperous conditions in human history, then along comes a new wave of authoritarian leaders – and probably the most duplicitous of the lot was right here in America – and then a tiny little virus came along to remind us things really aren’t as settled and rosy as we might have liked to think they were. And that hubris continues to be our achilles heel. And who knows, maybe hubris is the one constant in our humanity we just can’t overcome. I know we can’t outrun it. I’ve watched and watched and no one has done it yet.

Because, when all is said and done, Vladimir Putin is one of us. He’s a human being. Outrageously flawed? Sure, maybe, and there seems little question about that, at least from where I sit. And who knows, he may be another Hitler, but when you get right down to it that’s a decision to made by historians writing the next chapter of our story, and saying that now means little more to this moment than hurling a hot fudge sundae at a cold brick wall. It’s impotence, at least right now it is, yet it’s also worth remembering that histories are written by the victors.

But what happens when there are no winners?

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So, who will write our epitaph? And…will it even matter? Will the universe care that one more species came and went with little more than a whimper in the night?

Ooooh…It really makes me wonder…

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