I really don’t agree. Let me tell you why.
The air raid sirens were tested on Wednesday at noon in my home town, just like most towns and cities in America during the Cold War. I live in Ohio, but it has always seemed odd that Indiana never adopted Daylight Savings Time. I bet kids from there could tell where the border was just by noting how the wailing would start up over yonder while they still had to wait another 60 minutes.
Although no one has ever praised my intelligence, there have been a few days where I was on the ball. I happened to be around a television in 1969 when a news report explained what a nuclear war was and what the sirens were for. Every Wednesday at noon for months afterwards I’d start sobbing when I’d hear that eerie shriek, convinced that the Russians had launched. Let me tell you, being aware of your own imminent death was a hard thing for a 5-year-old to bear.
As a general rule, US administrations from both sides of the political aisle worked to oppose Communism for five long decades. It is wrong to single out one President and claim that they were the sole reason that the Soviet Union fell in 1991. Even after saying that, I’m going to partially violate my own rule and state that Ronald Reagan deserves a lion’s share of the credit.
I was alarmed at Reagan’s economic policies while he was in office, particularly his policy on increased military spending. It is obvious in retrospect that I was wrong, since there is little doubt that the pressure placed on the U.S.S.R. to match us hastened the dissolution of that state by many years. Before Reagan I had been convinced that the Soviets would still exist and pose a viable threat long after I had died and become forgotten. Now it appears that people in their 20’s have a hard time remembering that once it seemed almost inevitable that the Communists would destroy our civilization in a single afternoon.
Don’t get me wrong, the technological advances spearheaded by people like Bill Gates certainly meant that it was just that much more difficult for Communist Russia to match the US in advanced warfighting capabilities. Devoting your life to administering a huge charitable organization and doing good works is also an achievement that should be praised. But Gates didn’t stare down a nuclear-armed police state and refuse to blink. That took someone with balls as big as churchbells. I really don’t think anyone can claim that Gates has that kind of package.
So tell me true. If lives are on the line, which one of the guys below would you want at your back?
(Cross posted at Hell in a Handbasket.)