Tag Archives: Soviet Union

Mea culpa: Mitt was right about Russia

It’s time to admit I was wrong about something back in 2012.

Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney — the freshman U.S. senator from Utah — declared that Russia was the nation’s No. 1 “geopolitical foe.”

I was among the Americans who scoffed at Sen. Romney’s assertion. I supported President Obama’s re-election and the president was seeking to make the case that Russia didn’t pose the threat that Romney said it did.

Obama was wrong. So was I. However, I take little comfort in knowing that millions of other Americans also were wrong.

We now are learning the hard truth about what Romney said in 2012. Russia has cemented its role as the nation’s premier threat.

Yes, we also have international terror organizations that pose serious and dire danger to this country. President Obama sought to tell Sen. Romney in 2012 during a presidential campaign debate that the “cold war has been over for 20 years.” While that is true, the Russia that emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union has threatened the integrity of our electoral system.

The current president of the United States, Donald Trump, doesn’t act as if he believes it. He gives Russian strongman/tyrant Vladimir Putin a pass on Russia’s 2016 electoral assault. He denigrates our nation’s intelligence network in the process.

None of us who criticized Mitt Romney in 2012 should be as blasé as Trump is about Russia. I am concerned about what Russia is capable of doing.

Does Russia pose a direct military threat to this country? I do not believe that is the case, although they do possess a substantial nuclear arsenal developed by the USSR.

Russia, though, is a third- or perhaps fourth-rate economic power.

However, the Russians are capable of inflicting significant damage via their cyber capabilities. They have done so already. They will do so again.

Thus, they pose the most serious threat to this nation.

Mitt Romney was right.

Trump demonstrates his unfitness yet again

As if we needed more examples from Donald Trump that illustrate his complete unfitness for the job he occupies . . . he offers up two more sparkling examples.

First, he declares that he might declare a “national emergency” to start construction on The Wall he wants to run along our southern border.

How does that work? The president signs an executive order and then re-distributes money intended for the Pentagon to build The Wall. The notion of declaring a national emergency based on “security” grounds raises the issue of its very legality.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the authority to appropriate money. It allocates money to specific agencies for specific uses. A president who declares a national emergency appears to circumvent the Constitution. It well could be an illegal act.

Second, the president sat in that meeting room with Cabinet officials and defended the Soviet Union’s act of outright and naked aggression in 1979 when it invaded Afghanistan. His basis? Trump echoed the Kremlin pretext at the time that “terrorists” allegedly were attacking Soviet citizens across the border.

That is a blatant and disgraceful rewriting of history. The USSR invaded Afghanistan for the purpose of installing a friendly government in Kabul. It killed millions of Afghan citizens, forced millions more to flee, while suffering tens of thousands of battlefield casualties on its own.

For this president to say these things in the span of just a couple of days provided a breathtaking and astounding display of ignorance, arrogance and delusion.

I repeat what I’ve said all along: This individual is unfit at any level to occupy the office to which he was elected.

My fellow Americans, those of you who voted for this individual . . . you have made a terrible mistake.

RIP, George H.W. Bush; you have earned it

The tributes are pouring in from around the world over the news our nation received Friday night, that our 41st president, George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94.

We knew it would come sooner rather than later, quite obviously. President Bush led the fullest of lives. He now joins the love of his life, Barbara, in eternal peace.

The world reacts

Of all the ways to honor this great man, I want to look briefly at two related episodes of his four-year presidency. They speak to this man’s humility and his grace. Yes, he was the most qualified man ever to serve as president: combat Navy aviator during World War II, successful West Texas  businessman, member of Congress, special envoy to China, ambassador to the United Nations, director of the CIA, Republican Party chairman, vice president of the United States.

I’ll leave it to others to comment on those accomplishments, singularly and collectively.

Two events occurred on his presidential watch that speak to this man’s astonishing grace: the Berlin Wall tumbled down in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

The collapse of the wall was a singular event that heralded what we all knew was going to happen, that communism in Europe was done for. Did President Bush high-five everyone he could find to celebrate the event? No. He stood by stoically while the world witnessed with its own eyes the unification of a great European nation and the first visible sign that the end of the Cold War was at hand.

Then came the dissolution of the Soviet Union two years later. Soviet chairman Mikhail Gorbachev resigned. The communist government collapsed under its own weight of corruption ideological bankruptcy. It was replaced by the Russian Federation. It began a new era we all hoped would signal the creation of a democratic state in the former USSR. Sadly, it hasn’t worked out the way we hoped it would.

Again, the president didn’t run a victory lap. He didn’t proclaim that the Good Guys had defeated the Bad Guys. He didn’t gloat, prance and preen. He acted with nobility and calm. The world did not need to hear the president of the United States explain what it was witnessing in real time.

Those, I submit, are the hallmarks of a man who knew his place and knew in his huge heart how to behave while the world was changing before our eyes.

We are saddened today to learn of the passing of this great man. We are grateful, though, for his lifetime of service to his beloved nation.

Well done, Mr. President.

74 years later, D-Day still stands alone

The Greatest Generation generally is defined as millions of American men and women who stood firm against tyranny during an intense, bloody and desperate global conflict.

Meaning no disrespect to those Americans who answered the call for freedom, let me suggest that the Greatest Generation comprised men and women from around the globe.

Seventy-four years ago today, American soldiers — along with Canadian and British comrades in arms — splashed ashore at Normandy, France. They had just completed a harrowing journey across the English Channel to pierce Adolf Hitler’s Fortress Europa.

These brave men endured unspeakable horror. They faced a determined enemy intent on keeping the land they had conquered four years earlier.

The D-Day invasion today stands as the greatest amphibious assault in the history of warfare. Five thousand ships supported the attack. Hundreds of airplanes flew sorties over the Nazi defenses.

What often gets short shrift, though, is the composition of the entire attack force. It was made up of French fighters and Poles. They formed gallant military units after their own countries fell to the Nazi juggernaut. Other nations took part: Denmark, Greece, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand all participated in this mammoth endeavor.

What’s more, French, Dutch, Belgian and Norwegian resistance fighters never stopped battling the occupiers in the years preceding the launching of Operation Overlord.

It was an international event of the first order.

And I cannot dismiss the bloody fight that was occurring along the Eastern Front as the Red Army marched from the Soviet Union, into Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany as it sought to rid the world of the tyrant Hitler and his minions.

One final note I want to make: Supreme Allied Commander U.S. Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was prepared for the worst on D-Day. He drafted an announcement that he never had to make. He would take full responsibility for the failure of the invasion had the international force been unable to secure the beachhead at Normandy.

That, dear reader, is true leadership.

The Greatest Generation, comprising fighters from many nations, ensured success in the weeks and months that followed the titanic assault against the forces of evil.

We owe all of them an eternal debt of thanks.

Press flack keeps insulting the public’s intelligence

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fielded a direct question today from a member of the White House press corps: Is Russia a friend or foe of the United States?

Her answer defies all logic and it insults the intelligence of Americans across the board.

Sanders said “it is up to the Russians to decide” if they are going to be friendly or unfriendly toward the United States. Such a goofy response causes many of us out here to say: What the … is she talking about?

I need to remind Sanders what her boss, Donald John Trump, used to say about “identifying our enemies.” While running for president, Trump excoriated President Barack Obama for refusing to identify “Muslim terrorists” by name. Obama’s response was that we are not at war with Islam, but we are at war with those who are mass murderers of Muslims.

Why, then, does the current president identify Russia as a supreme foe of this country? Why does his press flack sing from the White House song book that refuses to identify our adversary — by name!

The Russians have all but declared war on our electoral system. They have sown discord, dismay and discontent among Americans, many of whom have lost total and unvarnished faith in our nation’s election system.

The Russians and their president, Vladimir Putin, are not our friends. Putin is a trained spook. He once ran the Soviet Union’s spy agency. He is, in the words of former Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly, “a killer.” Putin has sanctioned the murder of journalists and anyone who dissents from his public policy.

This man is a friend? It is up to the Russians to “decide” if they are our friend?

Listen up, young lady: You insult our intelligence constantly by spouting such idiocy.

FBI doesn’t deserve bashing from POTUS

Maybe my memory is failing me. Or maybe it isn’t.

I’m having trouble remembering the last president of the United States to disparage the nation’s foremost law enforcement agency, the FBI.

Therein is where Donald J. Trump is doing things so very differently from his predecessors. He’s calling the FBI a lot of names. He alleges that morale is in the crapper; he says its leadership is in shambles; he is saying the FBI needs to be rebuilt.

Oh, and he’s calling the FBI’s role in the examination of Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election a “sham” and a “Democratic hoax.”

I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of an FBI agent. How would I like working for a government being run by a head of state and government who is so distrustful of my agency?

Trump keeps savaging FBI

If the president is going to contend that morale is so lousy, perhaps he is playing a major role in flushing it down a sewer hole.

He’s also been disparaging the attorney general, whose agency — the Justice Department — controls the FBI. Trump dislikes that AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia-election meddling probe, as he should have done. The president’s reaction has been to send signals that Sessions’s time as AG might be dwindling.

Of course, there’s also the issue of Trump questioning the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia did meddle in the election and that Vladimir Putin issued the order to do it. Putin told the president he didn’t meddle — and that denial from the former head of the Soviet spy agency is good enough for Donald Trump.

Strange. Very strange.

First thought on JFK murder? The Soviets did it!

I was a mere pup of nearly 14 years of age on Nov. 22, 1963.

I was home that day, nursing a bad cold. Mom and Dad had gone to work. My sisters were at school. I was watching TV when the news bulletin flashed on the screen: “Shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade in Dallas, Texas; no word on whether the president was injured.”

The “word” came quickly. The president was rushed to a hospital. Doctors worked to save his life. They failed. Then came the announcement: “President Kennedy is dead.”

My first thought in the moment was clear and simple: The Soviet Union did it. Not only that, they were going to invade us immediately. The United States was without a president. We had no leadership.

Remember that I wasn’t yet 14. My mind ran wild.

I remember those initial thoughts today as Donald Trump has released many thousands of previously classified documents related to the Kennedy assassination. I’m hearing lots of talk that conspiracy theorists are going to run wild with this stuff. It’s going to substantiate their already-loony belief that someone other than Lee Harvey Oswald was involved. It was the Mob, the Cubans, the CIA, the FBI, LBJ, men from Mars, the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

I settled down over the years about what I truly believe happened that terrible day.

My 13-year-old concern about the Soviets was ill-founded, to state the obvious. I didn’t realize in the moment that Vice President Lyndon Johnson took the presidential oath of office in Dallas. He took command immediately. And the Big Bad Bear didn’t attack us.

I have grown up since then and have come to believe that Oswald did it. He acted alone. He snuck into the Book Depository Building. He waited for the president’s motorcade to pass under the sixth-floor window where he was perched. He squeezed off three rounds and fled. He got caught in the theater, shot the Dallas police officer and was arrested.

He wanted notoriety and, oh brother, he got it.

I also believe Jack Ruby wanted to be remembered, too, which fueled his desire to kill Oswald in the Dallas PD basement.

I’m glad the documents are out. I hope to read many of them over time. The myriad conspiracy theories they are likely to rekindle are the work of people with too damn much time on their hands.

They need to find work. They need to get and stay busy.

Imagine JFK calling Khruschev ‘Rocket Man’

It’s The Donald vs. Rocket Man.

Two heads of state — Donald John Trump and Kim Jong Un — are locked now in a standoff. The president of the United States and the dictator of North Korea are trying to out-insult each other.

What continues to amaze me, though, is that Trump decided to elevate his Rocket Man poke at Kim in a highly unusual venue. He took his insult to the floor of the United (bleeping) Nations, man!

He said if Rocket Man continues to threaten the United States, this country would “totally destroy” North Korea. That’s the way you promote peace, Mr. President … by threatening to annihilate another nation.

I’m trying to imagine an earlier president, John F. Kennedy, using that kind of language during the height of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. I actually have a memory of that time, when the Soviet Union began building launch pads from which it could launch missiles at the United States or our Western Hemisphere allies. It scared the bejabbers out of me — and millions of other Americans, too!

Kennedy didn’t resort to name-calling, or attaching silly school-kid epithets to his references to Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader. He actually left much of the bluster to our U.N. ambassador at the time, Adlai Stevenson.

The president’s use of a Rocket Man insult won’t get Kim to do what we want, which is to stand down in his attempt to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting us and our allies.

An earlier president, faced with an even graver threat, arguably, than the one confronting the current president, stared it down with steely resolve, which — according to commentary at the time — forced the other guy to blink.

President Kennedy didn’t need to insult his adversary.

Media attacks = dictatorship?

I have been reluctant to equate Donald John Trump Sr.’s constant attacks on the media with the behavior of tinhorn dictators — and truly evil despots.

That is until now.

The president tore into the media again Tuesday night at that campaign rally in Phoenix, Ariz. He called them “fake” and “dishonest.”

Trump echoed much of what he has said ad nauseam ever since he launched his presidential campaign.

For seemingly forever, the media let him get away with it. They would report on his rants, letting his words speak for themselves. Trump obliged. He courted the media.

Then something happened. The media began calling the president out on the lies he kept repeating. The media started to reveal falsehoods. Trump didn’t like that. Then the attacks got really hot.

There’s a pattern developing, according to media watchdogs and political pundits. It’s disturbing in the extreme. The pattern follows a familiar course: political leaders seek to delegitimize the media, to reduce their standing among citizens. These leaders have sought to turn the people they want to lead against the media.

Hitler did it in Germany. Stalin did it in the Soviet Union. There have been assorted Third World dictators who have done the very same thing: Pol Pot in Cambodia, Idi Amin in Uganda, Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania.

I cannot pretend to know what is motivating Donald J. Trump’s incessant attacks on the  media. Nor can I pretend to understand anything as it regards the president’s thinking.

I just know that presidents for as long as I’ve been alive have sought to understand the media’s role in a free society. They’ve all reached a form of bipartisan understanding. None of them has liked reading or hearing critical news stories about their presidencies.

However, as former President George W. Bush said recently, the media are “necessary to keep public officials accountable.”

And, no, the media are not — as Donald Trump has said — the “enemy of the American people.”

What does Kim Jong Un want? Part 4

The United States of America has followed a nuclear policy that, so far, has worked pretty well.

Call it a policy of “containment and deterrence.”

Thus, is it possible for the United States to get North Korea to toss its budding nuclear stockpile into the crapper? Hardly.

Which brings me to one of Kim Jong Un’s demands: He wants to keep his nuclear arsenal. USA Today’s list of five demands contains this one, which might be central to the current tensions that have escalated between the United States and North Korea.

Check it out here.

You’ve heard of “mutually assured destruction,” aka MAD. It kept the United States and the Soviet Union from nuking each other during the Cold War. The world is full of trouble spots occupied by nuclear-powered nations: India and Pakistan; Israel has them, too; South Africa has been thought to possess nuclear weapons.

Yes, we negotiated an agreement designed to rid Iran of its nuclear weapon capability and the jury is still out on whether that will work ultimately.

North Korea presents a tremendously different situation for us. Donald Trump is blustering, bellowing and bloviating about what he intends to do if Kim’s regime keeps making “overt threats” against the United States and our allies. A “threat” doesn’t constitute military action, so the president is treading on some highly dangerous ground if he intends to hit the North Korean’s first.

My advice to the president — which he won’t ever see, let alone heed — would be to dial back the fiery and furious rhetoric and possibly accept the notion that North Koreans are going to do what they intend to do, no matter how many threats we level against them.

However, the commander in chief can make it known — through back channels — what Kim knows already: Don’t even think about using those nukes.