Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Scary Times, Scary Memories, Nothing But a Heartbreaker

It has been a long time since we last thought so much about nuclear missiles. We have been living in the post-Cold War age when nuclear saber rattling has greatly diminished. Sure, from time to time we have heard of "dirty" bombs that terrorists might develop to do some major damage to limited areas and lots of people. But the BIG threat- nuclear missiles- Bob Dylan's Hard Rain Fallin'-- not so much.

Until now, when a 20-something dictator in N. Korea decides he has to show his power. There it is again. The nuclear threat. It is not something to easily ignore from such an isolated, secretive, and paranoid place. Not that we think the missiles can reach the United States. But South Korea or Japan? That's a different story. And Japan knows what happens when those bombs fall.

I watched the news this evening and was taken back to the earlier saber-rattling days. I remembered the fears that the image of a mushroom cloud could engender. I remember sitting under a desk in a nuclear bomb drill. As if that desk could do anything! I remember visiting family in New York City, which everyone agreed would be ground zero and the devastation would reach hundreds of miles.

That fear, while nowhere near as great as it was then, is still there in some ghost form; some communal memory buried deep in the 60s. This is not the same. Yet.

Because escalation is what happens next. Japan will want the bomb. South Korea will want the bomb. The arms race will start- and once started among small, frightened countries it is hard to stop. Not to mention what would start if North Korea actually did launch even a relatively small nuclear strike. It is been 68 years since one of those bombs was last used. I hope this isn't the times when it will once again rear its ugly presence.

Which is about all I can do. Hope. I am powerless over this, that's for sure! I can only trust that wiser minds and cooler heads will be able to prevail. War. Never a good thing. This one could be downright ugly.

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