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Thread: What was it like internationally when the Soviet Union fell?

  1. Top | #11
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    There was a deep fear of nuclear war. For me it was like a dark cloud dissipating. It was unbelievable.

    Over here watching people tear down the Berlin Wall with hands was spellbinding. SAC eventually stood down from constant nuclear alert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    I grew up in the western United States, and this is the first political event I have a conscious memory of. Obviously I was too young to understand the implications at the time aside from "everyone is very happy that a wall fell down", but I do remember the era of optimism that followed; us 90's kids were raised with this feeling that the old world was on its way out, that we were headed toward a new globalized reality in which many long-standing problems - ecosystemic collapse, warfare between major powers, racism, terrorism - might perhaps be tackled by some chirpy PSAs and storybooks with moral lessons at the end. We were going to be richer than our parents, more caring than our parents, we would create technological wonderlands. Well, best two out of three I guess! People in my generation often blame 9/11 for the collapse of all that optimism, but I think the slowly deteriorating economy had as much to do with it. There were political battles, but at least if you were white and middle class and hadn't yet realized yet that you were gay *cough*, they all seemed pretty low-stakes compared to the trauma and quiet anxiety our parents had clearly been raised under. I remember my parents (ardent Democrats in the middle a mostly Republican county) being not just horrified, but kind of disgusted, offended by the Gulf War. This was exactly the kind of violent foreign adventuring that was supposed to end now that we no longer had the USSR to pin our garland wars on. Little did they know...
    I don't really understand why the Gulf War was so disliked. Iraq annexed another country, in clear violation of international law, and I don't know of any data that the Kuwaitis wanted to live under Saddam's thumb.

  3. Top | #13
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    I grew up in the western United States, and this is the first political event I have a conscious memory of. Obviously I was too young to understand the implications at the time aside from "everyone is very happy that a wall fell down", but I do remember the era of optimism that followed; us 90's kids were raised with this feeling that the old world was on its way out, that we were headed toward a new globalized reality in which many long-standing problems - ecosystemic collapse, warfare between major powers, racism, terrorism - might perhaps be tackled by some chirpy PSAs and storybooks with moral lessons at the end. We were going to be richer than our parents, more caring than our parents, we would create technological wonderlands. Well, best two out of three I guess! People in my generation often blame 9/11 for the collapse of all that optimism, but I think the slowly deteriorating economy had as much to do with it. There were political battles, but at least if you were white and middle class and hadn't yet realized yet that you were gay *cough*, they all seemed pretty low-stakes compared to the trauma and quiet anxiety our parents had clearly been raised under. I remember my parents (ardent Democrats in the middle a mostly Republican county) being not just horrified, but kind of disgusted, offended by the Gulf War. This was exactly the kind of violent foreign adventuring that was supposed to end now that we no longer had the USSR to pin our garland wars on. Little did they know...
    I don't really understand why the Gulf War was so disliked. Iraq annexed another country, in clear violation of international law, and I don't know of any data that the Kuwaitis wanted to live under Saddam's thumb.
    Saddam Hussein was led to believe by American diplomats that the US wouldn't intervene if he annexed Kuwait. He thought the Americans were on his side, having supported him in his long war against Iran. And the Americans were unnecessarily vague about their opinion of his 'recovering' the territory he felt was stolen from Iraq by Kuwait.

    The invasion and subsequent war could easily have been averted by a clear and unequivocal statement by the US, warning Iraq not to invade.

    And once he invaded, there wasn't any particular reason why the US should have done anything about it - as long as the oil kept flowing, the US had no reason to get involved in this local war.

    It's not like America has intervened in all the other places where territory has been invaded or annexed, or in every other local conflict around the world. Sure, there was a moral argument to act; but the Americans have turned a blind eye to plenty of those, before and since.

    The US went to war because they wanted to. They weren't harmed, or even threatened; they were just showing off.

    It was an opportunity to show the world that they were the only remaining superpower, and that if they said 'jump', everyone was expected to say 'how high?'. Shock and awe wasn't for the edification of the Iraqis. It was supposed to shock and awe the entire world.

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    It wasn't only the US, it was an international coalition that expelled the Iraqi army. And Iraq was clearly violating international law by annexing another country.

    Do you think the rest of the world has no reason to care that Russia has annexed Crimea, and should not have put sanctions on Russia in response?

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    It wasn't only the US, it was an international coalition that expelled the Iraqi army. And Iraq was clearly violating international law by annexing another country.

    Do you think the rest of the world has no reason to care that Russia has annexed Crimea, and should not have put sanctions on Russia in response?
    I do not. But did they invade Crimea and throw Russia out?

    No?

    Then apparently there are differing levels of 'violating international law', depending on how much of a pushover the Americans think the offenders will be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    For those who were old enough to be aware of it happening, I'm curious how people in the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, and Western Europe reacted when it happened?

    Was it considered something of a big event, and widely talked about? Or was it largely ignored and unnoticed by most people?
    It was a huge deal in the U.S. Everyone knew about it and watched. Looking back, I think it was the biggest news by far for some time.
    The Authoritarians

    GOP and Trump supporters will not be able to say they didn't know. Vote in numbers too big to manipulate.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    It wasn't only the US, it was an international coalition that expelled the Iraqi army. And Iraq was clearly violating international law by annexing another country.

    Do you think the rest of the world has no reason to care that Russia has annexed Crimea, and should not have put sanctions on Russia in response?
    I do not. But did they invade Crimea and throw Russia out?

    No?

    Then apparently there are differing levels of 'violating international law', depending on how much of a pushover the Americans think the offenders will be.
    Oh no, I re-ignited a political debate!

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    Member Tharmas's Avatar
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    There seems to be a conflation of the TWO Gulf Wars.

  9. Top | #19
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tharmas View Post
    There seems to be a conflation of the TWO Gulf Wars.
    They are directly related. It's perfectly reasonable to consider them one war, with an intermission.

    It was all about the US trying, in her usual unsubtle and inept way, to engage in gunboat diplomacy - sending a message to the world that as undisputed top dog, she can beat down any opponent with ease.

    Similar conflicts during the Cold War just turned into long, bloody, and pointless slug-fests, as the two superpowers did everything possible to support whichever side the other hadn't picked, short of actual direct conflict between the superpowers militaries.

    Nobody wanting to start WWIII didn't mean nobody wanting a war, it just meant they were fought by proxy.

    Remember when the Mujahideen were on our side? They were the good guys, because they were fighting against the Soviet Union (they even helped James Bond to escape from a Soviet airbase in Afghanistan in the 1987 film The Living Daylights). Not at all like the evil Taliban, who are sworn enemies of the USA.

    The fact that the Mujahideen and the Taliban are mostly the exact same individual people, still fighting for the exact same reason (to rid their country of interfering foreigners) seems to be lost on most people. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

    The end of the Cold War meant that suddenly we had to pick our enemies for different and often more sensible reasons than their mere allegiance to the USSR. The crazy Islamic fighters in Afghanistan were never the natural friends of the West - but in the Cold War, the enemy of my enemy was always my friend.

    Of course, nobody thought it really mattered too much - it was inevitable that sooner or later the war would turn hot - at which point we would all discover we had a few minutes to live. UK civil defence was a complete joke, based as it was on the expectation of just three minutes of warning of a nuclear strike. As we used to say in the '80s, at least that's just enough time to make a nice cup of tea.

    An interesting demonstration of the different views of the Cold War between West Germany and the UK can be found in popular culture - specifically the song 99 Luftballons released by Nena in 1983 in Germany, and then released in English in 1984, as 99 Red Balloons.


    (View video on YouTube)


    (View video on YouTube)

    Both tell the tale of a nuclear apocalypse, but in the German version, this is sparked by greedy politicians who believe that they can gain personal advantage from a war; while in the English version, the war is sparked by paranoia, with the military incorrectly believing that an attack was underway, and launching in retaliation.

    It's an interesting diffence in perspective, and says a lot about what the two nations were most concerned about at the time.

    In 1983, Stanislav Petrov singlehandedly saved the world, when he refused (against orders) to launch a retaliatory strike after his air defence system reported multiple ICBM launches from the continental US. It turned out that the Soviet satellite had in fact detected the rising sun reflecting off some scattered clouds. So this idea of an accidental global war was really not particularly far-fetched.
    Last edited by bilby; 07-21-2019 at 12:02 AM.

  10. Top | #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    I grew up in the western United States, and this is the first political event I have a conscious memory of. Obviously I was too young to understand the implications at the time aside from "everyone is very happy that a wall fell down", but I do remember the era of optimism that followed; us 90's kids were raised with this feeling that the old world was on its way out, that we were headed toward a new globalized reality in which many long-standing problems - ecosystemic collapse, warfare between major powers, racism, terrorism - might perhaps be tackled by some chirpy PSAs and storybooks with moral lessons at the end. We were going to be richer than our parents, more caring than our parents, we would create technological wonderlands. Well, best two out of three I guess! People in my generation often blame 9/11 for the collapse of all that optimism, but I think the slowly deteriorating economy had as much to do with it. There were political battles, but at least if you were white and middle class and hadn't yet realized yet that you were gay *cough*, they all seemed pretty low-stakes compared to the trauma and quiet anxiety our parents had clearly been raised under. I remember my parents (ardent Democrats in the middle a mostly Republican county) being not just horrified, but kind of disgusted, offended by the Gulf War. This was exactly the kind of violent foreign adventuring that was supposed to end now that we no longer had the USSR to pin our garland wars on. Little did they know...
    I don't really understand why the Gulf War was so disliked. Iraq annexed another country, in clear violation of international law, and I don't know of any data that the Kuwaitis wanted to live under Saddam's thumb.
    Because the first war was about saving the Saudis who had long personal relations with the Bush family. It was about oil only, not about liberating Kuwait. Kuwait was a talking point for forming an Arab coalition.

    SA was and is a brutal dictatorship. That is what we rescued. A stae at the time with a strong religious anti American ideology. It remains today.

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