Moscow's nostalgia for the bad 'ol days
By Jill Dougherty
CNN Moscow Bureau Chief
December 20, 1999
Web posted at: 10:33 a.m. EST (1533 GMT)
This news analysis was written for CNN Interactive.
(CNN) -- Forget the millennium for a moment. Let's go back
to the Cold War.
Moscow, November 7, the annual Revolution Day military
parade. You're standing in Red Square, dwarfed by posters of
Marx and Lenin and deafened by the rumble of tanks and
mobile launchers carrying mock-ups -- super-realistic ones
-- of intercontinental ballistic missiles, their
cigar-shaped noses snubbing the gray skies.
For Russians a decade ago, it was a stirring sight. No doubt
about it, the Soviet Union was a superpower. One with a vast
arsenal of real nuclear missiles, with multiple warheads,
capable of hitting New York or Washington in half an hour.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. That's what you got. Respect mixed with fear.
Fast forward to late 1999. No more Red Square parades
featuring nuclear missiles. No more Soviet Union. Your
nuclear stockpiles have shrunk, with 60 to 70 percent of
your ICBMs beyond their shelf life and facing deactivation.
Your military budget is a small fraction of the Pentagon's
budget. Your economy seems permanently stuck in low gear.
Chechnya seems to spin out of control, a portent of possible
Worst of all, that hard-won respect is slipping away.
Superpower? No longer. The United States still claims that
title, but now it's effectively one by itself. NATO bombs
Belgrade, you scream and shout, and no one seems to listen.
You bomb Chechnya, and the West threatens to withhold loans.
But here's one thing the world still respects: nukes. "It
seems Mr. Clinton has forgotten Russia is a great power that
possesses a nuclear arsenal," an aging President Boris
Yeltsin recently warned.
Politicians in Moscow publicly scoffed at his remark -- the
ravings of an old man, they said.
Behind the scenes, nostalgia grows for Russia's nuclear
security blanket. A new millennium dawns like the pale
Slavic sun, casting shadows of nuclear missiles on Red
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