Mutually Assured Destruction. It is ironic yet fitting that the initial letters of this phrase used by the nuclear missile arm of the military spell out the word MAD.
I was born in 1963, two years after the Berlin Wall was erected and during what is referred to as the Cold War, a political and military stand-off between communist Russia and the democratic west. It came to a long overdue end on 9 November 1989 when the Berlin Wall was torn down.
The Cold War had many facets to it, but on a basic level it was all about the fear that Russia may try to take over the west and bring us all under communism. It seems laughable now looking back. Once it was all over it came to light that Russia was not in any economic position to do very much at all, at home as well as abroad.
It was all based on fear.
Our level of fear is constantly fuelled, mostly by the media, to a level that sells newspapers and wins viewing polls for the news channels. Much of this fear is exaggerated . . . I fear.
Mutually Assured Destruction refers to the ridiculous numbers of nuclear missiles that the west had pointed at Russia and vice versa. The theory goes that if you hit us we will do exactly the same to you and in order to achieve this each side amassed hundreds of missiles, therefore it was hoped that neither side would ever use them.
In 1986 a treaty was agreed upon to reduce the number of nuclear missiles and one such area to see that reduction take place was in North Dakota, centred around Cooperstown. 150 missile silos , each just 3 miles apart, and control centres, were deactivated then destroyed.
On 21 July I visited two such deactivated sites, now preserved for history. The first site, code named November 33, was one of the actual silos that once contained a gigantic Minuteman missile. All that remains is the enormous two-foot-thick blast door that covered the silo, which would blow back as an ICBM (Inter Continental Ballistic Missile) launched on its 6,000 mile-capable journey, over the north pole into Russia somewhere.
Each of these missiles were 500 times more powerful than Hiroshima. The sites simple design, with its raked gravel area and neatly mowed lawn with this silent concrete cap just waiting to fly open like some lethal jack-in-the-box, evoked a real sense of fear in me.
So in 1986 they took away 150, however, 450 remain in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, meaning Mutually Assured Destruction still remains, though goodness knows who against now.
The missiles are located in these states due to their proximity to the north pole, giving each as much range as possible, and farthest from each seaboard away from the reach of nuclear sub missiles. These are areas of low population density as well, but what they seem to haver forgotten is that if this lot goes up we can all kiss our ass goodbye.
The next area I visited was one of the decommissioned control centres, Oscar Zero, 50 feet underground within four-foot-thick walls and behind two-foot-thick blast doors. This is where they would launch all of these weapons of death.
To me the fact that even one of these things remains bothers me, let alone the 450, but I suppose given the nature of organised political and religious shit-heads that remain in power in certain countries today, who themselves are trying to manufacture nuclear weapons and have few moral scruples, then I guess we need to maintain at least some. I can't help think though that the 150 reduction was merely peace meal and has made little difference, except maybe to defence budgets.
I hope that I never live to see the day any of these leave the ground.
It truly is a MAD world.