Monday, January 3, 2011

Soviet vehicles stage in Mississippi?



by Dan Roth

When old Soviet-bloc vehicles started showing up in Mississippi, mutterings about overthrow plots and secret roads began to spread. Were all these trucks being staged as part of an advance effort? The truth turned out to be far more mundane, but also ironically symbolic of the ignominious end to the U.S.S.R.

Rather than any kind of clandestine military operation, the vehicles had been sold as surplus to a businessman who planned to retrofit them for humanitarian use by the United Nations. That effort didn't quite pan out, and the vehicles (including decrepit Zil trucks similar to the restored one above) weren't suited for road use in the United States. Some went to Mexico, others were used by the Air Force for target practice, but in the end, a huge number of the vehicles patiently decayed in a Biloxi, Mississippi storage lot until Hurricane Katrina, a civil court ruling and continuing lack of interest sealed their fate. Off they've gone, leaving the tall weeds of the storage lot for the towering piles of the scrap yard, destined to be melted down into home appliances and even new automobiles.

And so perishes one of the remaining vestiges of the Cold War. In dying out, the raw materials that once fueled tense stalemate are being transformed into commodities, the raw material of capitalism.

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