"We sat on deck at night and the sky was beautifully clear and sometimes we saw a kind of halo moving across the star fields and we used to speculate what is this. A luminous disc slowly crossing. And I decided this is the refracted light from an object way up there, this is the circular form it takes. Because I wanted to believe that's what we were seeing. B-52s.

"War scared me all right but those lights, I have to tell you those lights were a complex sensation. Those planes on permanent alert, ever present you know, sweeping the Soviet borders, and I remember sitting out there and feeling a sense of awe, a child's sleepy feeling of mystery and danger beauty.

"I think that is power. I think if you maintain a force in the world that comes into people's sleep, you are exercising a meaningful power. Now that power is in shatters or tatters and now that those Soviet borders don't even exist in the same way, I think we understand, we look back, we see ourselves more clearly, and them as well.

"Power meant something fifty, sixty years ago. It was stable, it was focused, it was a tangible thing. It was greatness, danger, terror, all those things. And it held us together, the Soviets and us. Maybe it held the world together. You could measure things. You could measure hope and you could measure destruction.

"Many things that were anchored to the balance of power and the balance of terror seem to be undone, unstuck. Things have no limits now. Money has no limits. Money is undone. Violence is undone, violence is easier now, it's uprooted, out of control, it has no measure anymore, it has no level of values.

"I don't want to disarm the world. Or I do want to disarm the world but I want it to be done warily and realistically and in the full knowledge of what we're giving up. You see. We all tried to think about war but I'm not sure we knew how to do this. The poets wrote long poems with dirty words and that's about as close as we came, actually, to a thoughtful response.

"Because they had brought something into the world that out-imagined the mind."

from Don DeLillo's Underworld

do you know what you're fighting for