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As Weapons Fail, Need for Them Does As Well

....well, okay, we hope

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 29, 1989.

Following the exquisite failure of the Trident II, an undersea, nuclear-armed missile so bad it has never made a flight as it was designed to do, we may have the perfect demise of the B1 bomber, a plane that cannot fly whatsoever without a ton of computers working perfectly, a laughable implausibility. The B1 is a delicate entity, full of quirks and horrors of the over wrought machine which finds expression in its tendency to drop from the sky like an ambitious emu. In any case, the B1s, all 96 of them, have been grounded.

As ever, the Soviets copied the B1, their version being the Blackjack, their first nuclear bomber designed to return to the Soviet Union after its mission. As ever, their version is bigger and of equally questionable flying qualities, not to mention military point.

Whatever joy possession of these giant Sunkist lemons might give the military, they certainly tally up to one - and only one - of the biggest boondoggles to have emerged from the arms race.

Second, have we recovered from the sight of the Communist party hierarchy taking a pasting at the polls last Sunday? To start with, an Orthodox priest beat the party hack in Leningrad, a questionable advance, but of interest nevertheless. It is not a victory of superstition over a –har!- scientific socialist, since all prelates are state-approved in the Soviet Union.

If we can believe what the majority of reports emanating from Soviet elections indicate, most Soviets are sick to death of the restrictive socialism the Soviets have lived under for years. In virtually every case where a Gorbechev supporter was up against a traditionalist, the Perestroika man - seen the percentages on gender in the elections? - beat the entrenched party hack.

It is becoming more and more difficult for communists to hail themselves as the future. The People's World, a self-parody of a communist newspaper, shrieks about Frank Lorenzo but has a conniption trying to pat the events in the Soviet Union into shape. If we have learned one thing, stable societies hate excessive government; which is to say, there may be a universal truth here.

In any case, the increasingly publicized dud qualities of military weapons seem particularly egregious in light of cultural advances in the Soviet Union, and utter decay in the US. Again, the ironic truth is that the Soviets and Americans have more in common with each other than with any of their allies. It’s an exciting and opportunistic time.