The cold war may be over but con­fu­sion reigns

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION - Ev­ery week BAR­BARA FISHER looks at is­sues that af­fect us all – the is­sues that get you talk­ing. You can join in by email­ing bmail­bar­

SIXTY years ago the USA suc­cess­fully det­o­nated 14 nu­clear weapons at the Ne­vada Test Site, hop­ing to sort out tac­tics for ground forces in the event of a nu­clear war.

Read­ing this, and then at the week­end watch­ing the 2012 film Gin­ger and Rosa, set in the 1960s, brought back wor­ries that my gen­er­a­tion had as chil­dren.

By the 1960s, pre-IRA, pre-ISIS, pre-dy­ing from eat­ing too many chips, nu­clear weapons (or nukalar as many now pro­nounce it) were firmly es­tab­lished as the en­emy that would ‘get us’ be­fore we grew up.

Our par­ents and grand­par­ents had served in two world wars and brought us into an era which pas­sion­ately cel­e­brated peace, but now we could all be blown to bits in a mat­ter of sec­onds. This time it was The Rus­sians who were com­ing (think early James Bond films). Scari­est of all was the Cuban Mis­sile cri­sis. CND with its Ban the Bomb mantra, had grown up in the 50s but we were told that uni­lat­eral dis­ar­ma­ment – their aim – would leave us open to attack, and that the UK hav­ing the bomb, as well as Rus­sia and the USA, meant that no-one would ever use it.

A stand-off, I sup­pose. But I thought this must be like en­sur­ing that you had a rock-hard conker to match your op­po­nent’s. Surely most chil­dren would want to battle it out to find the fiercest conker-owner?

Of course we need to have the abil­ity to de­fend our­selves but the child in me re­mains puz­zled that we think we have the right to ban other coun­tries (even if it is de­sir­able) from hav­ing Weapons of Mass De­struc­tion. I am even more con­fused that we can in­vade them and ef­fect regime change, even when they haven’t got round to shop­ping for their WMDs, never mind stock­pil­ing any.

For some strange rea­son, the nu­clear weapons test I men­tioned at the be­gin­ning was called Op­er­a­tion Teapot. How re­as­sur­ing – there’s noth­ing a nice cuppa can’t put right. And then Mr F re­minded me about choco­late teapots ...

NO-ONE how­ever could chal­lenge the com­fort of an­other Fe­bru­ary an­niver­sary which def­i­nitely helped pro­duce a more peace­ful world. Twenty five years ago on Fe­bru­ary 11 Nel­son Man­dela was re­leased from pri­son af­ter 27 years, to be­come Pres­i­dent of South Africa in 1994. There’s some­one who should have taken over the world.

Email me at bmail­bar­ and catch up at www.getwestlon­

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