Back in the 80s the Russians were the baddies and we were the good guys. It wasn’t a matter of if but when they would blow us all to kingdom come with their nukes. We all knew our place, and we all knew we’d be alright so long as we had Uncle Sam watching our backs. Back then Reagan was building a Star Wars programme that had nothing to do with George Lucas or R2-D2. No, this was a savage big space umbrella that would keep us cool under the heat of a thousand suns and keep us warm in the coming nuclear winter. Then we grew up.
When the Wall came tumbling down we soon discovered that Reagan was a nasty swine. At the height of the racist Apartheid crime he refused to sanction South Africa, and even when there was Republican political will – albeit weak – he vetoed the motion. As a right-wing psychopath he saw AIDS as a righteous punishment from God on gay people and cut federal funds to research into its cure. Then he went and sold weapons to Iran and used the profits to fund fascist death squads in Nicaragua – pretty much preloading the oven in the Middle East and Latin America from which we are all being burned today. It’s not nice to say, but the best thing he did was die.
Now here we are right up the creek of another Cold War and the only paddle we thought we had turned out to be a dud. Surely, we thought, a black president would change the world. Yeah, that’s a tad messianic, but we reckoned we were owed something. Why not some divine intervention? Fat luck, we were landed with Obama and another nuclear stand-off with the Russians (this time in the Middle East for Christ’s sake) with drones and extraordinary rendition of people to a hellhole within a hellhole within a loophole where human rights don’t matter anymore.
All this is happening in the midst of a war where terms like good and bad have been parked along with all the rest of the ontology. There’s Vlad the Impaler with a hereditary despot; maniacal and murderous fanatics, Saudis and Iranians; rebels, insurgents, regimes, and counter-insurgents; US, Turkish, Israeli, French, Australian, Canadian, and now lapdog British airstrikes… and then there’s ISIS. No one wants to call this a World War, but it would be quicker to count off who doesn’t have a dog in the fight. None of the aforementioned hooligan states and groups are the good guys. They’re all as dirty as the oil they’re killing for.