“Mind the Gap: The Generation that Came of Age between 9 November 1989 and 11 September 2001. The Promise of Peace, Wealth, Cooperation, and Understanding that was Tossed Aside by Cold Warriors Desperate for a New War, the World the Old Generation Re-Made, and the Full Appreciation of What Our Nascent Global Community Lost in the Months Following 9-11.”
I don’t have time to write the book with that title now. But there was an excellent discussion at the bar this evening, when one patron came in having recently watched Argo, and attempted to explain/describe the historical setting to another patron whose father just so happened to emigrate from Iran to the United States in 1979. It was all friendly; we’re good souls down at the pub. But in attempting to integrate the feelings and opinions of my fellows at the bar, placing it in historical context, while simultaneously taking into full consideration how our perception of events in Iran in 1979-80 have been fully transformed by the recent shenanigans in Iraq and Afghanistan, it occurred to me that my own personal viewpoint was uniquely informed.
While I was in high school and at university, my worldview had to take in the end of the cold war and a cessation of hostilities: Peace — if not actual, than palpable and almost within out collective grasp.
I entered college with a sense of hope, an international mindset, an open mind and heart when it came to global entities, and a hunger to cash in on new global opportunities. We all learned a second language. The EU was proving that even Germany and France could get along in this new world, and the Russians were the biggest capitalists of them all. [Ayn Rand would have absolutely loved 21st century Russia]
And then some asshole had to go and ruin the new dream, before it could really gain traction. No, not the asshole you’re thinking of: one madman destroyed a couple of buildings in New York. A Crime, a Heinous Crime — and perhaps deserving of the end he met. No, instead that tragedy was used as an excuse to start a ill-conceived ‘war’ — a war, that as defined, will in fact be never-ending. Until all discontent on the planet is abolished, there will always be a “war on terror”, but every military effort taken to quell discontent only breeds more tragedy, more extremists, and more events like 9-11.
This is the perfect outcome for some: a war that cannot be ended with something as simple as the collapse of a superpower.
My Cohorts and I, who once glimpsed the promise of world peace, world cooperation, and global opportunity [capitalist opportunities!] in the 1990s will eventually grow and come to positions of power as older generations die off. I hope we will not be too jaded in our old age, or that we forget the promise of our youth (or willingly abandon it).
There was an asshole, backed by powerful corporate interests and at least one major political party, who took every positive thing that came with the end of the cold war, and wiped his ass with it
— to please his military-industrial base, to mask the continuing problems at home by getting everyone — domestic supporters and foreign allies alike — to “rally behind the flag” and basically making a shit-sandwich of world affairs and forcing everyone to take a big bite.
The Promise was squandered. Reagan railed in Berlin, “Tear Down This Wall!”
And we did.
And it might have been great.
Mind the Gap.