04 June 2007

Freedom from The Fear of World War III 1991-2007

The peoples of Europe were today stocking up on tinned goods and shotguns, converting their brand new wine cellars back into fallout shelters and laughing mordantly at the contents of old "Protect and Survive" leaflets as they bewailed the sudden death of Freedom from The Fear of World War III, that astounding - yet disturbingly brief - epoch when it was possible for citizens across the Northern Hemisphere to go to bed at night without fearing that some trigger-happy idiot senior military official in Russia or the USA might mistake a flock of seagulls1 for a missile attack and initiate a nuclear conflict.

Freedom from The Fear of World War III was the product of the long but stormy relationship between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. From the USSR's birth in 1917 right up to the early 1940s the pair had eyed each other suspiciously across the global dance-floor, only kept apart by the fact most of it was occupied by a lot of ageing Europeans in silly uniforms dancing the Imperialist Frug with impressionable young African and Asian nations overwhelmed by the ageing Europeans' wealth, savoir-faire and tendency to slap around any young African or Asian nation that didn't want to put out on a first date. All this was to change in the mid-1930's with the rise of a new type of European in Germany, possessing all the anti-social tendencies of the old Europeans with the addition of a psychotic devotion to racial theories, a tendency to see the presence of other peoples in the world as a mere engineering problem and much, much snazzier uniforms.

The USSR had been initially attracted by the new Germany, with whom it shared such interests as watching lots of soldiers marching as if auditioning for Monty Python's "Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch and a real enthusiasm for pogroms, but ended the relationship in the early 1940s after Germany turned up drunk on several bottles of extra-proof Blitzkrieg and attempted to beat it up. Hurt - both physically and emotionally - by Germany's behaviour, the USSR turned for comfort to both the macho young USA and the once-debonair but now ageing United Kingdom, the three states indulging in a brief ménage-à-trois during which they cut up the dancefloor and, indeed, most of Europe.

The relationship could not last: as the USA and UK spent more and more of their time alone together, the USSR began to feel left out. Soon it was to quit the relationship altogether, preferring to hang around behind an iron curtain with like-minded (if they knew what was good for them) countries, winning their absolute loyalty by beating them up if they got out of line giving them generous gifts of aid and assistance when they needed help. Thus the Cold War was born and with it the global fear of a new World War.

For more than 40 years the USSR and the USA returned to eyeing each other across the global dance-floor, hanging around at its edges while buying drinks for all their pals and trying to impress the other nations by setting up puppet dictatorships in third world countries and amassing massive nuclear arsenals. Such displays were not without their costs, both for the superpowers themselves - who had to pay for enormous numbers of drinks, plentiful puppet dictatorships and vast nuclear arsenals - and for all the other countries, who had to pay the price of sucking up to their superpower friends and having their governments subverted or countries invaded by their "best mates" not to mention forking out billions on Valium to help their inhabitants cope with the fear of imminent nuclear destruction.

Eventually the costs were to prove too great for the USSR which - despite putting on a brave face - was down to its last rouble and had been living off a diet of boiled beetroot and state propaganda for years. Unable to afford even the tanks necessary to put down a popular uprising in a satellite state, in 1991 it fell apart. In doing so it gave birth to Freedom from The Fear of World War III.

For 16 years, Freedom from The Fear of World War III led a happy life - spreading peace dividends across the globe, freeing billions from the dread of another World War and forcing James Bond scriptwriters to try and come up with new baddies. During its life, the world (or at least that part of it which hadn't been right-royally ballsed up by all those ageing Europeans and their empires) enjoyed unprecedented growth and wealth as well as a lot of fun laughing at the antics of Boris Yeltsin. It was all the sadder, then, that Freedom from The Fear of World War III should be struck down in its prime, set upon by none other than those some-time lovers and some-time sparring partners, the USA and Russia as America - its military muscles inflated, its testosterone levels sent into overdrive and its brain shrunk by daily injections of Neocon steroids - insisted on deploying a nuclear defence shield on Russia's borders and Russia - having pumped up its own muscles on a regime of new-found oil and gas wealth, the smack (not to mention cattle-prod, enforced detention and nuclear-tipped salmon sushi) of firm government and a blithe disregard for democratic norms - threatened to kick sand in America's face by pointing missiles at the US's best buddies in the European Union. With detente getting wound up and TV producers blowing the dust off old videotapes of "Threads" and "When the Wind Blows", Freedom from The Fear of World War III passed away.

Freedom from The Fear of World War III will be buried at St Oppenheimer's Church of the Mutually Assured Destruction. The service will be conducted by the Reverend Dr Strangelove and the hymn will be number 462 "Come, sound His four-minute warning abroad".

1 or any other early 80s synth-pop band.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Dodo, didn't know you were back from Frinton-on-Sea! Another timely and very funny post to cheer my evening. Thank you.

The As A Dodo Team said...

Thanks WCL. After selling a junior staff member's kidneys one of us even managed to make it as far as the continent and in any event a splendid time was had by all.

Now that we've got the material together for the book we'll be going back to posting Monday, Wednesday and Friday (+ other days when the time's available) - we hope that's a sufficient supply of japes to see our loyal readers through.

Ian Appleby said...

I do like the sound of the Imperialist Frug.What a shame the old arts of courtship have been lost.

With material like this, I'm surprised that no-one has thought to nominate you for an award of some description.