As a child of the eighties, I was raised in the crucible of possible global conflict. However, this Iran situation terrifies me.
I was about eight years old when this made for TV movie called The Day After debuted. It’s about the, um…day after World War III happens, in that Soviet troops from East Germany cross the border, go into West Germany, and then things just get sticky.
What the thing did in fairly shonky eighties telemovie style, was depict what happened to regular folks just going about their lives in the United States, then all of a sudden, nuclear armageddon.
The thing wouldn’t stand up to much scrutiny today – the effects were probably lame and the story a might contrived. But I do recall as an eight-year-old, in the mid-80s, having the very thought of such a thing scare the bejeezus out of me. The very notion of nuclear war? Scary AF.
I asked my dad if we could build a bomb shelter, and he said no, because if it happened during business hours, I was at school in one suburb, my sister in another, my mother a third locale and he in the CBD. All that expense so the cat could somehow survive the nuclear winter.
Then the mid-80s turned in the late 80s. The Soviets just became Russians and Lithuanians and Latvians and such, Mariah Carey started having hit songs and things just kind of went on from there. The memories of The Day After faded as the threat seemed less present.
Back in my day, all the movie villains were Russians. Then the cold war ended, and they needed new villains, so what were they to do? They had to go farm new ones, and looking towards the Gulf they saw just what they were after.
George HW Bush sent US forces – and their international allies – to the Persian Gulf in 1990 because some tinpot dictator had decided to ignore a line in the sand which had been arbitrarily drawn there by a faceless British bureaucrat in the immediate aftermath of the first world war.
He goes into Kuwait, our boys go in after him, and a few short months later, the Iraqis are out, the coalition ‘wins’ and we’ve gone to quite a great deal of effort to restore a feudal monarchy. Good for us. It was a golden age for cable news coverage.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Tough day for doomsday: A note to those who believed it
- Why being realistic feels like doomsday thinking
- Hawaii’s Governor couldn’t confirm the doomsday alarm was false – because he forgot his Twitter password
Then, Poppy Bush forgets about the economy, Bill Clinton swaggers his way into the presidency and eight years of peace and prosperity later, all is well. But then Junior comes on board, is sitting on his hands when a bunch of Saudis, Emiratis, and Pakistanis fly some planes into the lower Manhattan skyline; we get the redux of the Gulf War because of some balloon juice about weapons of mass destruction that the American public initially believes, and the US media just seems to go along with.
So, they go back to Iraq, because despite the fact that of the nineteen hijackers on 9/11, approximately zero of them were from Iraq, and Iraq’s not in Afghanistan (or central Asia for that matter, but no problem), but – you know. Oil and the flag and don’t mess with Texas, etc.
This was also a golden age for cable news. I found this more than a little unsettling. It came down to all them being “basically the same” and that Islam was basically the new communism, so it’s very easy to tar them all with the same brush. So people in the west, ordinarily wilful and just going about their lives, start not trusting all Muslims.
And there is such rhetoric from the Right about what a threat they all pose. And ‘we’ start killing them at random with flying robots. And suddenly being on holiday in Bali is no longer a guaranteed safe thing, nor is being on a bus in London, or being on a plane in the US, staying at a 5-star hotel in India. Or catching a train in Madrid, playing cricket for Sri Lanka, or running a marathon in Boston, or just taking the piss in a magazine in Paris.
Because, oddly enough, you demonise a whole religion, and bomb them from a distance, you ostracize them and ban them from entering the country and paint them all as a villain, some villains will eventually emerge.
Not a fan of that, but it’ll happen.
In between his being impeached and his forthcoming trial in the US Senate, Donald Trump has a flying robot kills a notorious Iranian general, brags about it by tweeting a low-res jpeg of the American flag, then goads Iran into responding, which they do by shelling a US military base in Iraq. Now we’re looking down the barrel of a third gulf war, by a third Republican president, in as many Republican presidencies
So now, in what has to be a more incredibly fortuitous bit of coincidence in history, in between his being impeached and his forthcoming trial in the US Senate, Donald Trump has a flying robot kills a notorious Iranian general, brags about it by tweeting a low-res jpeg of the American flag, then goads Iran into responding, which they do by shelling a US military base in Iraq. Now we’re looking down the barrel of a third gulf war, by a third Republican president, in as many Republican presidencies.
Just today, amid all this frenzy, Oliver North was on Fox News, complaining about Iran’s capability to use surface to air missiles, and what a danger and threat they pose. That Oliver North, remember him? The chap who went to jail once, for selling surface to air missiles to…Iran. The proceeds of which funded some Nicaraguan death squads.
Classic. Gotta love the 80s.
On the left is a felon who illegally sold surface-to-surface missiles to the Islamist Iranian government. On the right is a guy complaining about the Islamist Iranian government’s use of surface-to-surface missiles. Also, they’re the same guy pic.twitter.com/BCOoUK0y4B
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 8, 2020
Because people apparently have zero memory or insight, or perhaps they’re part of an insane apocalyptic Christian death cult like our current Prime Minister is, and they’re all just egging on the end times. Fire? Check. War in the middle east? Working on it. Bring on the rapture, so that the wicked will be left behind as the righteous are sent to heaven.
The only difference between Trump and #ScottyFromMarketing is that Scotty actually believes in these morbid Pentecostal fantasies, and Trump only pretends to believe in Jesus, because it gets him votes.
So, yes. Here we are, again.
Another foolhardy, unnecessary exploit in the Gulf is nigh, because Trump wants to distract from his Senate trial, and because he doesn’t trust the Iranians, because they’re arming themselves, because he tore up the Iran nuclear agreement, which Obama championed, which lifted sanctions against Iran in exchange for their suspending their nuclear program, which they were doing.
The eight-year-old me in the mid-80s was convinced the world was ending because of nuclear war. Cool heads eventually prevailed, because they tend to when smart people are in charge.
Flash forward to 2020 and…I don’t have the same reassurance. Hug your loved ones while you can. Have some tiramisu.