Saturday, September 17, 2011

When War Ends With A Shrug.

I listened to a General doing a lecture about how the world has changed and how the nation-state is becoming a thing of the past -- how all the power is going trans-national to either corporations or militant groups. And how all the money for defense is being directed at a military plan that is still in the 60s.

At one point he said, "And I'm neither Republican nor Democrat. I've given up on both parties."

And that received the biggest, most spontaneous ovation of all. I saw a woman who was just walking by, who caught that. She leaned in and applauded as hard as she could.

He said he never realized how fragile civilization was until Somalia, "which, when I was there, had a pretty well functioning government. And now it's Mad Max."

He described a long term high level strategy meeting of top commanders in Berlin. It was his first. He was in a group of newly-arrived Brigadier Generals to Berlin. They had a driver take them directly from the airport.

But, earlier that day, the Berlin wall fell. He said everyone just stood around shrugging. No one had a clue what to do next.

The Soviet/US-NATO stand-off had been so set in stone, this was pretty much unprecedented.

So, the little group of Generals asked the driver if they could drive into east Germany, a border that for decades had been all barbed wire and concrete, towers and guards.

He said they drove up to Brandenburg Gate and no one was there.

So, they just drove in. And drove around. 

Puzzled and fascinated, they even drove to a military camp -- no guard -- and looked around. "All the Soviet military families were walking around just like at an American camp, and the soldiers who saw them were startled, but they didn't know what to do, either. 

Had they drove in the day before, they'd have been taking prisoners or killing each other.

After wandering around a bit, with nothing left to do, they got back in the car and drove back over to West Berlin.

Thus, the cold war ended in a whimper and a shrug.

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