Saturday April 12, 2014
Many years after the end of the Cold War, when the United States government brings to power a neo-Nazi leader in Ukraine in order to hurt both Moscow and Europe, the world finds itself on the brink of nuclear war once again. This may sound like an oversimplified distillation of current headlines, but it is in fact a plot point in Norman Spinrad’s science-fiction novel "Russian Spring", published in 1991.
Written as the Cold War came to an end, Spinrad’s novel envisioned the USSR not falling apart, but embracing market capitalism and joining with "Common Europe" to develop a civilian space program. Meanwhile, the U.S. retreated across the Atlantic to play hegemon in Latin America and build the "Battlestar America" missile shield – until opportunity arose to destroy the USSR by sponsoring a foaming-at-the-mouth Ukrainian separatist.
In actual history, Washington first encouraged the breakup of the USSR, then used the Balkan Wars to reassert dominance in Europe, ensuring the EU would remain a toothless hanger-on. Rather than carving out an empire in Latin America, the US claimed the world. The US space program did devolve to a purely military one, but never got the fabled "missile shield" to actually work. Meanwhile, those who want to go to the International Space Station must use the Soviet-designed Soyuz, the only orbital spacecraft still in