April 27, 2006
The "Cold" War:
The World Gone MAD
The last half of the 20th Century was defined by the struggle between Capitalism and Communism. While direct conflict between the world's two Superpowers was narrowly avoided, the Cold War was actively fought in many ways on several different levels and all over the world. World War 3 was the name given by many to the inevitable end of the world they saw coming. World War 3 has come to be known as the great war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact that never happened, but why didn't it? This turbulent period was filled with communist revolutions and pro-democracy revolts, wars involving one side and/or a client state of theirs and the other side being backed by the opponent.
The two countries and their client states hated each other and went to great lengths to go out of their way to hurt the other and supported anyone as long as they would hurt the enemy. These were the days when we aided Osama Bin Laden against the Soviets in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein against Iran (we also supported Iran against Saddam). In short, the two sides tried to find every conceivable why of conflict other than open war. Why you might ask, would they not just go at it'? The answer maybe one of the great stabilizers of our time. No, I am not talking about the UN, instead I propose that MAD has probably kept the world from sliding into another major World War and thereby has saved millions of lives. Given the great animosity and polarization between the two ideologies they would have slid into (and almost did anyway) massive open conflicts and with new and far better killing tools it would have caused unimaginable destruction.
MAD stands for Mutually Assured Destruction. It's a defense strategy that if one side tries to obliterate the other the aggressor will face retaliation in kind by a "second strike force" even if the opening volley by the aggressor annihilates the...