I grew up during the Cold War and some of its hotter parts. I well remember the fear as a child of a nuclear war. The Doomsday Clock always seemed about to strike Midnight.
I read Neville Shute’s “On The Beach” and it seemed less fiction than a portent of what was about to happen to us. I grew up in Melbourne, the location of both the book and subsequent movie. The scene of Fred Astaire driving his sports car full throttle through Melbourne’s deserted streets burned in to my young mind. The sense of all loss of hope pervades the story as the end slowly descends on all that is left of mankind. Shute wrote the book as a cautionary tale, hoping that the world would step back from the brink and reject a nuclear arms race.
I have vivid memories of The Bay of Pigs landing, The Cuban Missile Crisis, and the never ending predictions of war in “Old Moore’s Almanack“. It was not a good time to be a child, and many nights I would lay awake wondering what I would do when the bomb went off, if I could get to the kitchen in time to grab a knife and slit my writs, rather than die a horrid death from radiation poisoning.
However, most of the time, there was still an adult in charge and each time the clock was about to strike midnight, sense prevailed and a way out was found. The US and USSR still had their proxy wars, and these caused untold suffering and loss to the victims of those wars, but all out annihilation was avoided.
Today, the world has changed, and not for the better. We no longer have practitioners of realpolitik shirt fronting each other, we have two very spoiled children in charge. Both have had a similar upbringing, being treated as demi-gods, told they could do anything and having anything, they just needed to be strong enough to snatch from the other children. They were raised with no boundaries, they grew up without empathy, and their only measure of pleasure is how much stuff they have.
Kim cares deeply about preserving North Korea as it preserves his status and power, but does not care how many people must die. Trump cares about nothing except winning, and has no idea how mnay people will die to give him the win over Kim.