Passing Times – Number 1

PASSING TIMES

The world’s relief at the victory of the Allied Forces over Nazi Germany in World War II was short-lived. The Hot War was replaced by The Cold War, with a standoff between the Soviet Union, expansionist and determined to spread Communism, and the United States, now permanently drawn into Worldwide affairs and regarding socialism as the enemy of freedom.

Between those super-powers, the continent of Europe stood trembling at the prospect of someone pressing the nuclear button, either by intent or mistake. The continent of Asia was where the action was played out by proxy, leading to mass slaughter.

As the calendar moved from the 1980s to the 1990s, the world allowed itself another breath of relief. The Berlin Wall had marked the boundary between East and West; Communism and Capitalism; freedom and oppression. It was torn down. The Soviet Union collapsed and Russia itself seemed to be ready for democracy.

Now we’ve gone backwards again. A Russian who was imprisoned for spying for the West, but later released under a hostage exchange and was living in England, was attacked with a nerve agent. His daughter, visiting from Russia, appears to have been a collateral victim. They have both spent weeks in hospital at death’s door, but now seem to be recovering. A police sergeant, who tried to help them when they collapsed in the streets of the city of Salisbury, was also affected by the poison, but is on the mend.

Furtive chemical warfare in one of England’s cathedral cities … and the UK government has firmly laid the blame at President Putin’s door. Another twenty countries have accepted the UK’s view and the toughest response has come from the United States.

So this could be Cold War II – not the threat of nuclear annihilation (although that could re-emerge), but stealthy, targeted attacks on individuals, of the type that has brought attempted murder and chaos to a city in England.

I look at some of the tensions of The Cold War in my novel, “Beyond the Last Hill”, available from Doce Blant Publishing.

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Salisbury Cathedral

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