Cold War Americans Not as Fainthearted as You Might Think

At Reason, Greg Beato sketches the history of the fallout
shelter in Cold War America. Apparently, most people didn’t get too carried away
with doomsday preparations
:

I don't wanna go down to the basement
I don't wanna go down to the basement

“Despite what a 1961 issue of Good Housekeeping derided as ‘massive propaganda to induce Americans to burrow underground like worms,’ officials were never able to secure the level of funding a widespread shelter-building program would require. The government’s more general efforts to persuade citizens to build shelters on their own dime were only slightly more successful. After a decade of federal proselytizing, Newsweek noted in July 1961, American families had built around 2,000 shelters. In contrast, they’d built around 300,000 swimming pools during that time. (A New York Times article, also from July 1961, put the estimated total of family bomb shelters in the U.S. at 60,000.)”

Of course, all they had to worry about was the Soviet Union, not guys who put bombs in their underwear. Shelter chic is making a bit of a comeback today, so if you think a pool is a waste of a hole in the ground, then I have an investment opportunity for you:

 

Are We Not Zombies?

What do zombies and the military industrial complex have in common? Let us count the ways. In fact, let military strategy & policy professor Michael Vlahos (relation, yes!) take you down that thorny path.

"Battle of Yonkers" By Daniel LuVisi

Michael writes in Dark Lord, Dark Victory: America’s Dark Passage, in the latest issue of Kosmos (.pdf), that the 9/11 War has eroded America’s  “redeemer” identity, and instead has made it more akin to the “Dark Lord,” or “the mythic essence of children’s nightmares.” In other words, we’ve sort of lost our way, and where in the past “our historical method to redeem humanity has been war,” the current Long War has done nothing of the sort. In our zeal to recreate the glory and alleged redemption of World War II, the US manufactured another “true evil,” or Dark Faith (Muslim extremism), making it an epoch battle in which Muslims “readily understood it to mean … eviscerating the entire edifice of Muslim life, replacing it with American consciousness.”

But this has only made us weaker, nearly alone, reviled and unsure of ourselves. This Long War is a slow kill and a buzz kill.

So what’s this have to do with zombies? We can see it in the latest AMC series, “The Walking Dead,” but more poignantly, in World War Z, a bestselling science fiction novel of “The  Zombie War” by Max Brooks (son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft). After nine-years of playing a humiliating game of whack-a-mole with a “rag tag” enemy that was supposedly vanquished after 9/11 but in key areas has seemingly more support from the people we are supposed to be liberating than we ever did, Americans are now indulging in elaborate fantasies, like World War Z,  in which they regain all of the pride and strength and virtue that was lost — by fighting an even more ruthless adversary, the ultimate evil –  the flesh-eating undead.

Maybe, just maybe, we can win that war, and liberate ourselves!

Sounds “fantastical,” and sure, “The Walking Dead” is nothing but a slick soap opera with lots of blood and guts, but as Vlahos points out:

“…are not zombies our former selves — hence, the most terrifying and relentless enemy of all? Are not their ranks also flush with those who had lost American virtue: The passive, the narcissistic, the cynical, the uncaring? Sacred wars are about purification, revival and redemption. By indirection, Brooks is making the troubling point as well, that only zombies — or a national challenge equally existential — can renew America now.”

AMC's "The Walking Dead"

Brooks makes his own point, however indirectly, on his own website, below his mention of Mike’s piece. It seems U.S soldiers in Afghanistan have been buying out  “zombie hunter” patches like hotcakes. He points to a summertime piece by the Global Post’s Ben Brody, where soldiers languishing on Forward Operating Bases waiting for some kind of meaning in what they are doing are increasing turning to … zombies.

Dog-eared copies of Max Brooks’ “World War Z,” a first person account of the Great Zombie War, and his definitive undead-fighting manual, “The Zombie Survival Guide,” are found wherever soldiers relax and oil their weapons.

One soldier showed me a huge, razor-sharp Nepalese Ghurka knife that weighed about seven pounds — a lot of extra weight to carry on patrol. He explained that because killing zombies required a decapitating or skull-crushing blow, there was simply no better tool for fighting the undead in close quarters.

As uniforms and body armor become more and more covered in Velcro, Zombie Hunter patches have become hot sellers for tactical suppliers. At the German Post Exchange at Kandahar Airfield, that patch is continually sold out.

The problems of war against the undead have parallels with the problems soldiers face daily in Afghanistan. A zombie needs no food, water or equipment and pursues the living with implacable determination. For soldiers trying to defend a million dollar vehicle against a malnourished, illiterate man wielding a $40 roadside bomb, the similarity must be chilling.

No, more like it’s morally degrading and humiliating and one of the few salves are heroic apocalyptic fantasies, where everything is black and white and good and evil. Indeed, maybe these fantasies do spill over to the battlefield, because it’s easier to think of the Taliban as mindless, flesh-starved creatures. One can hardly see how this helps our cause, or the people of Afghanistan for that matter. In fact, I can’t help but think when i read this, “oh well, there goes the rest of this bloody war.”

Soldier's Zombie Patch in Afghanistan -- Photo by GlobalPost

So how did it get to this point? Its a journey, but Dark Lord, Dark Victory attempts to explain it, noting that it is much of the citizenry’s fault for creating and maintaining this “warrior nation” identity encapsulated in the Defense Tribal Confederacy that is now crippled by its own myopic, misguided vision.  An ambitious read that may leave you wondering just how far off these Zombie Wars really are.

Why you MUST be shielded from Wikileaks!

You will know you have spoken the truth when you are angrily denounced; and you will know you have spoken both truly and well when you are visited by the police. –J. B. R. Yant

Apparently the folks from Wikileaks.org have spoken both truly and well. Which is why you must be shielded from them – – –

"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State." –Chief Nazi "Information Officer" Dr. Joseph P. Goebbels

Thus the American establishment — including opinion mills from both halves of the War Party — is actively looking for any which-way it can to repress the release of more of it’s mortal enemy to "we the people." The methods of repression include a very shakey prosecution of head Wikileaks dude, Julian Assange, threats in fact, to persecute him all over the world, an on-going investigation of Wikileaks by Mr. Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, presumably to invoke the Espionage Act, etc.

There have also been calls to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY) to have Wikileaks declared a Foreign Terrorist Organization, or FTO on a par with al’Qaeda. That would open Wikileaks associates to assassination, etc. as per the latest White House push to authorize executive kill lists.

Is it just me, or does it seem as if the U.S. establishment — in fact, establishments world wide [1] — are as terrified by the truth as they want us to be of al’Qaeda?

Perhaps Wikileaks front dude Julian Assange and company aren’t aware of the dangers the truth poses, not only to the state as Goebbels revealed, but to those ill-advised enough — or brave enough — to reveal it.

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. –George Orwell

If you’re going to start talking the truth, keep one foot in the saddle of your fastest horse. –Chinese proverb

So, is your foot in the saddle?

No? It’s OK, but how about the next best thing: Support these brave folks, not only wikileaks, but the folks brave enough to put antiwar.com up for more than 12 years, etc.

Notes:

[1]

"This disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community," Clinton said, following talks in Washington with Turkey’s foreign minister. –[Hillary] Clinton accuses WikiLeaks of ‘attack’ on the world return

Something they should still fear?

The first [British anti-Iraq-war] march in which I took part must have numbered something like a million. …this huge crowd, which was being really very crudely manhandled by the police at the edges. We stopped. We were all wedged together and looking into Downing Street, where the Prime Minister’s residency is. And nobody seemed to speak, but a kind of feral roar of popular will rose. And I tried to imagine what it must have been like for [Tony] B liar sitting inside that building and hearing that sound…. –British Novelist John le Carré on the Iraq War, Corporate Power, the Exploitation of Africa and His New Novel, “Our Kind of Traitor,” Democracy NOW!, Thursday, November 25, 2010 .

Is THIS why they hate us?

AMY GOODMAN: A former US Marine who killed two unarmed Iraqis is running for a congressional seat in North Carolina… Ilario Pantano has said he has no regrets about fatally shooting the two at point-blank range after detaining them near Fallujah in April 2004.

JUSTIN ELLIOT: These two Iraqi men had been searched. They didn’t have any weapons. And he was — Mr. Pantano was having them search their own car when he opened fire, and shooting as many as fifty or sixty rounds at them. And that includes reloading his M-16 rifle.

AMY GOODMAN: Despite his admission, the military cleared Pantano of wrongdoing in 2005. He is now in a tight race with incumbent Democrat Rep. Mike McIntyre in North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District. –From Murder to Congress?

Do you think this sort of thing might be why they hate us?