Category Archives: Russia

Triumphalism or simply relief that we survived?

It’s 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the symbolic end of the Cold War.

Berlinermauer

While some will use the occasion to claim that the fortunate outcome just proves they were right, I’d agree that it’s certainly a time to express gratitude. Gratitude to the gods of chance that we survived the nuclear brinkmanship of the period, and the many terrifying close calls that could easily have resulted in our complete obliteration.

Let’s hope our leaders are wise enough to never try rolling those dice again, eh? (Even though they probably already are.)

UPDATE: John Oliver explains to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show:

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John: The Wall falling represented the fall of the Soviet Empire – a Superpower, literally crumbling in front of us.
Jon: It was an incredible moment. Do you think something like that could happen again?
John: No, no, Jon, this was a unique set of circumstances. A perfect storm not likely to be repeated. You have to remember, their economy was in tatters…
Jon: True, I remember.
John: …and looking abroad, they had very few real friends left.
Jon: They had behaved incredibly arrogantly on the world stage.
John: Absolutely.
Jon: No question the world had turned.
John: But together those would not have amounted to much if not for their disastrous decision to try to invade and occupy Afghanistan.
Jon: That’s right, um…

…but of course, our situation is not analogous.
John: Totally different.
Jon: Yes, okay, yes, the economy’s in tatters, yes, we were a little arrogant… and we’ve been in Afghanistan for eight years now and it doesn’t look like we’re ever going to get out… But the Soviet Union at that time had an inexperienced, charismatic leader who came out of nowhere…
John: Promised change and reform…
Jon: I remember, yes, so that was completely, uh…
John: He even won the Nobel Peace Prize, so…

*pause*

Jon: …When your Empire falls, does it hurt?
John: A little bit, at first.

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