In dissent of the dissenting viewpoint.

(Apparently I wasn’t the only one a little irked by that Wall Street Journal article calling us “weak.”  I was a little baffled at the assertion that the possibility of either Ronald Reagan or Matthew Broderick accidentally destroying the entire world somehow provided less of a doom cloud over our youth than the reality of an airplane flying into a building did over that of the Millenials. But to those a bit older than I, this sort of assertion was a complete slap in the face.  I remember when the Berlin Wall came down, I remember knowing it was a big deal.  But at the time, I was honestly more concerned with whether or not my parents would let me go to the Motley Crue concert.  Today’s guest blogger was there for the end of the Cold War, risking his life.  And he took some exception to this statement.)

Here’s a link to some irritating generational navel-gazing that somehow manages to ignore one of the most salient features of the generation in question. Since the generation in question happens to be mine, I’m a little touchy about it.

There’s a whole lot of stupid in the editorial, but the absolute worst of it has to be this line: “For us, the waning Cold War was just a theoretical threat, and the vestigial air-raid drills at school a curiosity.”

Really? Dana Milbank’s just a little older than I am, so he has no excuse. Because I vividly remember “We begin bombing in five minutes.” I remember that we didn’t pay any attention to air-raid drills because everyone knew there was no point, that if it ever happened anyone who lived in any major metropolitan area in the US (and in the USSR, to be sure) would very shortly either be dead or wishing they were.

And from a little later, I remember being stationed in Europe when the Wall came down, when the USSR was falling apart, when no one knew whether or not the old men in the Politburo were going to try to go out in a blaze of glory. Our Cold War tasking, which can roughly be described as “plugging the Fulda Gap,” was a suicide mission, and everyone knew it. There was too much Warsaw Pact armor, too close, for our position to last more than a day, two days at the outside. If the balloon went up, the war wouldn’t be won–assuming it didn’t turn out to be an all-out nuclear exchange that would render the concept of “winning” absurd–by the people on the front lines when it started, either NATO or Warsaw Pact. It would be won by the second or third wave over, by the kids who were in Basic when I went over. Everyone, absolutely everyone, who was there at the beginning would be dead.

So yeah. The “weakest generation” won the Cold War. While evil old men played games with kids’ lives, as they always have and always will, we held the line. We were ones with the packs and the rifles (or in my case, with the bandages and IV bags). The war wasn’t won in Washington or London, and it wasn’t lost in Moscow or Berlin. It was our war, and we won it. We held the line.


-Daniel Dvorkin



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