Tag Archives: Evil Empire

Once upon a time, Republicans mistrusted the Russians

There once was a time, not that long ago, when Republican Party politicians bristled at the notion of cozying up to Russia, the direct descendants of what President Reagan once called The Evil Empire.

They would rant and roar at the prospect of Democrats talking nice to the Russians. They would argue that the Russians weren’t to be trusted as far as we could throw them.

The 2012 GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, called Russia the world’s greatest geopolitical adversary of this nation. Democrats laughed at Mitt. I admit to being one of the critics who dismissed Mitt’s view; I regret what I said then.

These days the one-time Party of Reagan has been captured and co-opted by Donald J. Trump. The current president is unlike any human being who’s ever been elected to the high office.

He talks nice to the Russians. Get this: He now disparages and disrespects our allies. He scolds our North Atlantic Treaty Organization friends for failing to pay enough to defend themselves. The president’s NATO diatribe plays directly into the hands of Russia.

I’m trying to imagine what the Republican Party hierarchy would do if, say, Barack H. Obama had done any of the things that his immediate successor has done. They would collapse into spasms of apoplexy. They would call for the president’s head on a platter. They would impeach him in a New York nano-second.

This is a strange new world, dear reader. It’s making me nervous.

The president of the United States is supposed to be a source of wisdom, stability and dignity. Instead, we have someone at the top of our governmental chain of command who has turned everything on its head.

What’s more, the political party with which he is affiliated is buying into it. The Russians are the good guys now? We are scolding our allies and giving comfort to our No. 1 adversary?

Wow!

Graham is correct, Trump is wrong on Russia

I am not inclined generally to speak well of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, but I want to say a good word or two now about the South Carolina Republican.

He says the president-elect is wrong about Russia and wants him to wake up and smell the coffee before too long about the nation formerly known as the Evil Empire.

http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/313194-graham-republicans-gleeful-about-russia-election-interference-are

Graham appeared this past Sunday on “Meet the Press” with his good buddy U.S. Sen. John McCain. He said this about his fellow GOP senators, according to The Hill: “Most Republicans are condemning what Russia did. And to those who are gleeful about it — you’re a political hack. You’re not a Republican. You’re not a patriot.”

Trump happens to be one of those Republicans who are “gleeful” about the Russians’ behavior during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Trump continues to question the CIA assessment that Russia sought to influence the election in Donald J. Trump’s favor. The CIA and other intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian spooks were acting on the director orders of Vladimir Putin; they cheered in the Kremlin when Trump was declared the winner of the election.

Graham is rightfully dismayed at the findings of the intelligence community, as is McCain. These two loyal Republicans have joined others within their party — not to mention Democrats — who want a thorough, bipartisan investigation in Congress to get at the root of what the Russians did and to seek solutions to prevent any foreign government from such overt interference in our electoral process.

If only the president-elect would listen to them.

Former hawk sees hope in Russia

zbig

Zbigniew Brzezinski has evolved.

He’s a former Cold War hawk who detested the Soviet Union. And with good reason. He fled his native Poland for a new life in the United States when Poland was controlled by the Evil Empire.

He became a national security expert and joined President Carter’s inner circle as national security adviser. He feuded with doves within the president’s Cabinet, most notably Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who then quit because he’d grown tired of the internal strife.

What is Brzezinski’s take on Russia these days? He’s less wary of the Russians and sees them a possible partners.

There once was time when Zbig would have counseled reprisal against Russia for encroaching on the airspace of a U.S. ally, such as Turkey. The Turks shot down a Russian warplane recently and the Russians have responded with some economic sanctions against the Turks.

Brzezinski doesn’t see that as a deal-breaker with the Russians.

Politico asked the former cold warrior about how worried he is about the shooting down of the plane.

He responded: “These tensions are serious but not fatal. In some ways, if good sense and intelligence prevail, they could even prove to be salutary, not only for dealing with a nasty regional problem but addressing the potentially more generally destructive consequences of a global system dominated by three superpowers. ”

Man, he sounds rational and reasonable.

There’s more. He was asked to define “salutary.” He said: “I don’t think anyone thinks that escalating this dispute is worth a major conflict with truly destructive consequences. In early October, in a piece I wrote for the Financial Times, I urged an effort to engage Russia in serious negotiations about the future of the region. I think perhaps we may now be doing what needs to be done [in talks in Vienna], given the common threat inherent in the delicacy of the relations between the nuclear powers.”

Advancing years — and profound change in the world alignment of power — does produce wisdom.

Vietnam, yes; Cuba, no?

Those on the right and the far right who keep yammering against efforts to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba — citing Havana’s horrible human rights — ignore the conduct of another actual enemy with whom the United States actually fought a bloody war.

Vietnam’s human rights record is just as atrocious as Cuba’s. Yet we’ve had diplomatic relations with Vietnam for two decades. Moreover, the relationship has grown closer.

http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21656714-vietnams-new-friendship-america-reflects-political-drama-home-power-plays?fsrc=scn/tw/te/pe/ed/powerplays

This is part of the argument against Cuba that doesn’t make any sense to me.

The Cubans once were part of the Soviet Union’s “evil empire.” So was Vietnam, for that matter.

Then the Soviet Union disappeared. Cuba continues to languish in poverty. Yes, it’s human rights record is abysmal. However, does Cuba pose a threat to the United States of America, the behemoth nation that sits less than 100 miles off the island’s coast? Uh, no.

Vietnam and the United States went to war in the 1960s. We sent millions of fighting men to that country to stop North Vietnam from taking over South Vietnam. The communists killed more than 50,000 Americans; we killed far more of them in the process.

The shooting stopped on April 30, 1975 when the communists rolled into Saigon, renamed the city after Ho Chi Minh and began sending South Vietnamese who were loyal to the Americans to what they called “re-education camps.”

Did that get in the way of the two former enemies becoming friends, establishing full relations? No.

Nor should it stop the United States from doing the same with Cuba.

The embassies are about to open in Washington and Havana.

Let’s stop the whining about the so-called “threat” that Cuba poses to the world’s greatest military and economic power. If we can make nice with Vietnam, then surely our extending a hand to Cuba is the right thing to do.

 

End of Cold War brought disarray

Joe Scarborough asks a compelling question about the state of U.S. foreign policy.

How did it get so messed up?

The one-time Republican congressman from Florida wonders how the world’s pre-eminent military and economic power can get in such a muddled mess.

I think I have a partial answer. Or perhaps just some food for thought: The end of the Cold War.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/history-scarborough-obama-bush-isil-israel-116495.html?hp=l3_3

Geopolitical relationships have gotten incredibly complex since the days when the Soviet Union sought to control the world and the United States kept pushing back the Big Ol’ Bear.

Our adversary was a clearly defined nuclear power. It covered 8 million or so square miles of territory across two continents. They were fearsome. Then again, so were we.

Then the Berlin Wall came crashing down in 1989. Two years later, the Evil Empire imploded.

Just like that, our Enemy No. 1 was gone.

In its place a lot of other enemies have arisen to rivet our attention. Scarborough thinks two American presidents — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — have presided over this turmoil. Granted, the Soviet Union disappeared on George H.W. Bush’s watch and his successor, Bill Clinton, managed to keep the assortment of new enemies at bay.

Here’s part of what Scarborough writes: “Bush’s ideological foreign policy was tragically followed by Obama’s delusional belief that America could erase the sins of the Bush-Cheney era by simply abdicating the U.S.’s role as indispensable nation.”

I am not certain anyone quite yet is capable of juggling so many balls at the same time. President Bush took dead aim at al-Qaeda immediately after 9/11, but then expanded that effort into a war against Iraq. Then came Barack Obama — and the world has just kept on getting more unstable.

But we still haven’t yet figured out how to manage crises that keep cropping up throughout the Middle East and northern Africa. The result has been, as Scarborough notes, a vast explosion of crises involving ISIL, Syria, Turkey, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria … and even Venezuela in our own hemisphere. Let’s not forget North Korea and the immigration crisis emanating from Latin America.

We’ve got to keep our eyes on many balls all at once.

 

Paying tribute to Bush 41

Lanny Davis and I have something in common.

We’re both reading the same book, “41,” the biography of the 41st president of the United States written by his son, the 43rd president of the United States.

http://thehill.com/opinion/lanny-davis/230351-lanny-davis-bush-41-and-the-credit-he-is-due

Davis is a much bigger hitter than I am. He once served as special White House counsel in the Clinton administration. However, he and I share the same respect for the 41st president, George H.W. Bush.

Davis perhaps has finished reading his copy of “41,” the volume written by former President George W. Bush. I’m still in the middle of it. I’m enjoying it immensely.

“W” makes no apologies about this book. He calls it a “love story” written to and about the man he admires most. Davis shares George W.’s affection for the elder Bush.

Davis writes in The Hill: “To me, the most important — and perhaps least generally recognized — is Bush 41’s role in the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.”

Indeed, President Bush didn’t spike the ball, so to speak, when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, nor did he do a victory jig in the Oval Office when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. He chose to mark those dates quietly. Indeed, he barely said a thing when both events occurred.

Davis recounts how Bush 43 writes that congressional Democrats urged Bush 41 to go to Berlin when the wall came down.

Then the Evil Empire dissolved. When it did, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sent Bush 41 a “thank you” note. Davis writes: “Gorbachev had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, a year after the Berlin Wall had fallen peacefully. Perhaps if the Nobel Peace Prize Committee had known at the time about Bush 41’s crucial but virtually invisible role helping Gorbachev reach this result with dignity, he would have shared that prize.”

Bush 41 is ailing these days. He isn’t quite so vibrant, even though he jumped out of an airplane on his 90th birthday.

His humility — one of his most endearing personal traits — shows through in the story written by his son.

Davis believes — as I do — that historians will rank Bush 41’s presidency as a consequential time in our history: “I believe that some day, history will judge this humble, self-effacing man as one of America’s most important presidents, if for no other reason than he helped achieve, as his son wrote, ‘one of the most stunning diplomatic achievements in history: a peaceful end to the Cold War.’”

 

Nation needs to be inspired again

John F. Kennedy wasn’t on the national stage all that long.

His presidency lasted about 1,000 days. He had served in the U.S. Senate a short time before that. He didn’t exactly inspire the nation with a lengthy legislative record. His time in the House was even less inspiring. Yes, he did serve heroically during World War II.

Even though his death — which the nation commemorated on Friday — took him from us much too soon, he did manage to leave behind quite a legacy of inspiration.

My favorite is attached here.

The president challenged a nation from within at a time when it was being challenged from beyond our borders. We were locked in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, which would become known during the Ronald Reagan years as the Evil Empire. The Soviets were our chief geopolitical adversary then, far more than they are now — no matter what one-time Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney might have said a year ago.

We sparred with the Soviets for supremacy on the world stage. We sought to beat them in a race into space. We won that race.

But the remarks JFK gave regarding that challenge — that we do these “not because they are easy, but because they are hard” — spoke far beyond a “mere” race to the moon. He sought to challenge his constituents to accept any challenge.

As we look back on JFK’s limited but still-inspiring legacy, it gives us pause to wonder whether we’re up to that challenge again.

I keep hoping that one day — I cannot predict when — we can set aside the deep partisan differences in government and set our sights on something grander.

It might be that we need a foe we can identify, someone or something with a face, a name, a clearly defined ideology.

Absent that, we need leadership that can take us above the bickering that has stalled the machinery of our government. John F. Kennedy knew how to tap into our innate spirit of challenge.

I believe it’s still there, waiting to tapped once again.