(Originally published as a guest-editorial on WND.com under the name Pat McLene)
“Nothing binds a people to their leader like a common enemy. Voters don't change governments during war.” – Harvey Fierstein
“Their empire is made up of conquered worlds. They take what they want by arms and force.” – James T. Kirk
In 1966, a new television adventure series appeared on the small screens of America's TV viewers: “Star Trek.”
Sold to Desilu Productions as a sort of “wagon train to the stars,” the original “Star Trek” series had everything: a daring and handsome captain, an alien first officer, an irascible doctor, and miniskirt-clad aliens and crew … ahh, persons.
And of course, an enemy. After all, what would any self-respecting adventure series be without an enemy? One that was clever, cruel, and ultimately beatable, but not so beatable that they couldn't come back time and time again.
For Gene Roddenberry, the creator of “Star Trek,” that enemy of the good Federation of Planets was the evil Klingon Empire. Klingons were the perfect TV bad guys. Since the show had a very limited budget, they were humanoid, covered in greenish makeup and had very thick eyebrows. And oh yeah, they all spoke with faintly Russian accents; an important distinction during the mid-60s at the height of the Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR.
For those under the age of 40, the term “Cold War” may require a bit of explanation. An online dictionary defines cold war as “(an) intense economic, political, military, and ideological rivalry between nations, short of military conflict; sustained hostile political policies and an atmosphere of strain between opposed countries.”
This is a pretty good explanation of the state of strain between the United States and the Russian-led Soviet Union from immediately after the Second World War until the collapse of the USSR in 1991. During that interval, while the U.S. and the USSR never faced each other in armed conflict “mano a mano,” numerous proxy wars took place between client states and non-governmental organizations supported and directed by the two superpowers.
And like the Federation of Planets versus the Klingon Empire, the question of who would ultimately win was really never in doubt. Sure, both the principle players had thousands of nuclear weapons, but neither side ever wanted to use them because of the real-world concept of mutually assured destruction. Besides, the Cold War was a hot property, making billions of dollars for arms dealers and conflict investors on both sides, and it allowed the political classes of both nations to further consolidate their power. The Cold War was, for many years, a win-win for both Washington and Moscow. And if a few small countries and hundreds of thousands of people were wiped out fighting the “decadent imperialists” or the “red menace” … well, broken eggs and all that.
But all good things eventually come to an end, and the Cold War finally collapsed under its own weight when the USSR came to the realization that a total command-and-control society simply could not compete with a more free-market system. This recognition was helped along by then-President Ronald Reagan, who apparently missed the memo on the benefits of the war, but who also appears to have been a big fan of “Star Trek.”
At least we can guess he liked “Star Trek” because in 1983 he decided to attempt his very own “Corbomite Maneuver” (See Season One, Episode 10) by convincing the Russians we were well on our way to developing a fictional “Star Wars” missile shield capable of destroying any and all incoming nuclear weapons.
Reagan's “maneuver” was successful, and the USSR economy – still reeling over its costly military losses in Afghanistan – was wrecked trying to create their own shield. Thus ended the Cold War ... and the military-industrial gravy train.
After 1992, the U.S. found itself adrift. We no longer had a common enemy. Oh, we tried over and over to acquire an enemy, a new evil empire worthy of the name. But nothing worked. Bosnia? No one could find it on a map. Saddam Hussein? Caught and executed. Afghanistan? Everyone wins there ... and then eventually runs away with their tail between their legs. China? If we were just to quit buying from China, the entire nation would implode. And they know that too.
Sure, each of these conflicts (real or potential) has made tons of money for the military-industrial complex. But none of them provided the visceral pleasure of a common enemy: a long-term, easily quantified, consistent (and strangely comfortable) opponent. Even radical Islam hasn't jelled, mainly because the only truly acceptable national enemy can't cause anyone to have to bear the appellation of “racist.” So what to do?
Well, the Democrats are attempting to supply us with an answer. They've discovered a new enemy. Are they evil? You bet! Do they have a strong-man dictator who is strangely photogenic? Definitely. Can they field a vast ravening army of godless (actually, this is no longer a requirement since a lot of liberals think belief in God is now an evil empire prerequisite) white men? Absolutely. Do they supply client states with weapons of mass destruction (read: guns)? They do! And most importantly, has it been proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this evil empire caused the election of the hated Donald Trump? Well … maybe not; but popular opinion is malleable, so they'll keep working on it.
That's right, they're back. Our new common enemy is ... Russia! Everything old is new again.
But not so fast. The new Russia is not your parent's Russia. Despite the hype, Russia isn't the powerhouse of its old Soviet Union glory days.
Here are a few inconvenient truths (sources: Wikipedia, Global Firepower):
There are a few other bits of data we need to know before we start re-printing the “Better dead than red” t-shirts.
• Russian life expectancy is 70 years. In the U.S., it’s 78 years.
• Russia is experiencing a negative population growth rate; their GDP is in the red, and it takes nearly 5 percent of that GDP to grow the food needed to (partially) feed their population. The U.S. GPA is positive, and we expend only 1 percent of our GDP to feed, not only twice the Russian population, but to export food to the world.
• Russia's total revenue estimate for 2015 was $224.2 billion, while America's revenue for the same period was $3.249 trillion.
“But what about cyber warfare?” you may ask. “The fiendish Russkis hacked our presidential elections!”
Umm ... not really. No one out there in the media or government has even intimated that the Russians – or anyone else (except maybe the Democrats), for that matter – changed a single vote or modified a single voter tally. As-yet unnamed CIA sources do suggest that Russia had a hand in the Wikileaks releases of data from hacked DNC computers and Sidney Blumenthal’s emails. But Russia’s involvement has been denied by Wikileak’s founder Julian Assange, and the FBI is still waffling.
So even though the Democrats are busy trying to blame Putin for everything from Trump's HUD cabinet choice to the wind-chill factor in Chicago, there simply isn't any reason to look upon Russia as anything other than a second-world regional power. I'm afraid today's Russia just doesn't rise to the level needed for a good long-term Cold War enemy. Pity.
But there is still hope. The advancement of space exploration continues. Perhaps, someday, we'll meet a real Klingon Empire, one that's crafty and never completely beatable. As a bonus, they'll probably ally themselves with the Russians. After all, they'll both speak English with the same accent.