I grew up in the Cold War. I missed the height of hysteria of the 1950s and the many bomb drills and shelters which were common. I wasn’t around for the Cuba Missile Crisis, but I remember clearly the feeling that the United States was constantly staring down “the evil” Soviet empire.
I remember the controversial made-for-TV movie “The Day After” which aired on network TV, talking about the aftereffects of a nuclear holocaust. It seemed like the world would be forever divided by ideology and rhetoric. Communism vs. Capitalism with no end in sight.
And then suddenly everything seemed to change – quickly.
Reagan told Gorbachev to “tear down the wall” at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin in June of 1987. Twenty-eight months later, the Berlin Wall came down, igniting jubilant and ecstatic people from Romania to Poland to stand up and be counted. The world was changing right before everyone’s eyes.
Two years later, the Soviet Republics themselves, from Kazakhstan to Estonia declared their freedom and the USSR could do nothing but acquiesce, as Russia itself went through a drastic make-over.
The seemingly impossible happened overnight. The Cold War had ended. The world would never be the same.
So this is a reminder to those who look at world politics in the present, noting the daunting tasks and great obstacles which need to be overcome – whether it be the repressive North Korean regime, the threat of a nuclear Iran, or the unsettled relations between the west and the Arab world; the world can indeed change quickly.
No one knows what will be right around the bend. It is, however, probably not what most pundits are predicting.