Tag Archives: USSR

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.

Trump parrots Kremlin line on Afghanistan

It’s impossible to believe that Donald Trump has said anything that, by itself, would doom his presidency. He has said so much, so often and with such idiocy that he should have been shown the door long ago.

Get a load, though, of what blurted from his pie hole during a 90-minute press availability in the Cabinet Room. He said the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 because “terrorists” were entering the USSR and that the Soviets were justified in responding as they did in invading the neighboring nation.

It’s been said already by others, but I’ll reiterate it here: The only other place where that fiction has been told has been in the Kremlin, where the Russian government is headquartered. No one else on Earth has ever said out loud and in public that terrorist incursions were the reason that the USSR invaded Afghanistan and fought the Afghans for a decade.

Which begs the question: What in the name of revisionist history is the president doing here? Some have suggested he is speaking the Russian line because he actually believes it, that the Russians have penetrated his skull with propaganda that no one else actually believes. Others suggest that Donald Trump, whose astonishing ignorance takes our breath away, simply doesn’t know what he’s saying, but that he is in love with the sound of his own voice.

The Wall Street Journal, with its right-leaning editorial page, has skewered the president with an editorial today. It said, “We cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American president.” Just think: The WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a friend and ally of Trump who also owns the president’s favorite cable TV network, Fox News.

I do not know what prompted Trump’s utterly ridiculous assertion. The best case is that it is the product of blind ignorance. The worst case is that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has something on the president, that Trump is now officially frightened to the point of reciting Russian propaganda regarding one of the signature episodes of the Cold War.

Whatever the case, for the president of the United States to so egregiously mischaracterize one of the world’s darkest moments is frightening on its face.

Donald Trump is unfit to occupy his high and exalted office.

Hey, didn’t we win the Cold War?

I always thought the United States and its allies won the Cold War, that we forced the Soviet Union to spend beyond its means on a military machine, bankrupting the country.

The USSR collapsed under its own weight. The Reagan administration sought prior to its demise to negotiate a deal to limit the production of nuclear weapons.

Four presidents came and went, the treaty was kept in place. The United States and Russia whittled their respective nuclear arsenals.

Now comes Donald Trump to assert that the Russians haven’t been faithful to the treaty. So he’s going to trash it. Then he announces a proposed buildup of nuclear weapons. The Russians counter with a threat to rebuild their own nuclear arsenal in response to the U.S. threat.

“Russia has violated the agreement,” Trump said. So he’s taking action.

It’s a dangerous course upon which the president is embarking. Instead of deploying diplomats and weapons inspectors to determine the extent to which Russia “violated” any agreement, Trump wants to flex our nation’s military muscles.

I know this seems to piddle all over the notion that the president is somehow beholden to Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin. To the extent that he’s holding Russia accountable for its actions in this context, I applaud the president’s rhetorical aggressiveness; if only he would use the same approach to dealing with Russian attack on our 2016 presidential election.

But are we now going to restart the arms race that produced a policy called Mutually Assured Destruction?

It’s simply a MAD course to follow.

Toughest POTUS ever on Russia? Aww, c’mon!

Donald J. Trump has no shortage of hyperbole. The president trots it out whenever he damn well feels like it.

Such as this: “I have been the toughest president on Russia … ever!”

Really? Hmm. Let’s review that bit of bluster, shall we?

October 1962: President Kennedy gets intelligence that the Soviet Union was building offensive missile sites in Cuba. He consults with his national security team. They debate whether to attack the sites, invade Cuba, do nothing, or impose a blockade on the island nation. JFK chooses to blockade Cuba. He then speaks to the world on national TV and warns the communists that an attack on any nation in the Western Hemisphere would result in a “full retaliatory response” from the United States.

The Soviets backed off. They took down the missile sites. World War III was, thus, averted.

June 1987: President Reagan ventures to West Germany. He already has described the communist regime in Moscow as the Evil Empire. The president goes to the Brandenburg Gate separating East and West Berlin and bellows, “Mr. (Mikhail) Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

There have been other instances of U.S. presidents acting sternly in response to Russian (or Soviet) aggression. President Carter ordered a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow after the USSR invaded Afghanistan in the previous year. President Bush 41 oversaw the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama all had their instances of spine-stiffening resolve as they involve the Russians. I include the Soviet Union era in this discussion because, well, the Soviets were Russians, too.

And yet the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, keeps insisting — without any demonstrable evidence — that he’s the toughest president of all time against the Russians.

Give me a break.

Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of history knows better.

How about returning to the moon? How about going farther?

President Kennedy already had initiated the race to the moon. The United States was a distant second to the Soviet Union when he declared his intention to ensure that we “send a man to the moon and return him safely to the Earth” by the end of the 1960s.

Then the president implored us on. “We don’t do these things because they are easy,” he said. “We do them because they are hard.”

Well, Americans got to the moon first. It was 49 years ago today that the late Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder onto the moon’s dusty surface and pronounced, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”

He thrilled the folks back home. Not just in our country, but everywhere. Perhaps even in the Soviet Union.

Mission accomplished.

We sent several more missions to the moon. Astronauts planted flags, dug up lunar dirt and brought it back, they drove around on “lunar dune buggies,” and one of them — the first American in space, the late Alan Shepard — even hit a chip shot that went for “miles and miles.”

Then we stopped going to the moon. It became too expensive. The public lost interest. We won the race. The act of launching three people into space aboard a flaming rocket carrying many thousands of pounds of flammable fuel no longer fascinated the American public.

I am one American who lived through that exciting time. I want them to return.

Subsequent presidents have given somewhat tepid support for the initiative of returning to deep space. The end of the Cold War in 1991 removed the Soviet Union from the world landscape. The Soviet descendants, though, have continued to send explorers into space. They now carry passengers with them. Some of them are Americans.

I am acutely aware of the expense of such exploration. However, it was what we were put on this Earth to do, to reach beyond our planetary comfort and to learn more about the world beyond.

Donald J. Trump has continued the presidential push — such as it’s been — to return one day to space. I want NASA to redevelop its own manned program. It’s what we do — and we do it well.

My sense is that enough time has passed since the last moon mission that we’ll get quite excited when the next rocket blasts off into the heavens with crews that will take the next “giant leap for mankind.”

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!

NATO remains our most important alliance

On one hand, Donald Trump is right to insist that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization member nations pay more for their defense.

The president, though, is talking way past the sale with his relentless attacks on our nation’s alliance in Europe, the one created after World War II as a defense against potential aggression by the Soviet Union.

He is insulting the heads of state and government of virtually all those nations. He suggests Russia controls Germany because it sells the Germans oil and natural gas. Holy crap, man! Does the president have any clue as to what Europeans are thinking and saying out loud about his own relationships with the Russia and the former chief KGB spook who runs that country?

NATO remains as credible, viable and important today as it was at its founding. For the president of the United States to undermine an alliance full of nations that came to our defense after 9/11 plays directly into the hands of Vladimir Putin, whose mission as Russian president has been to, um, undermine NATO.

I wonder if Putin is going to thank Trump when they meet in Helsinki for doing his job for him.

Trump and Putin by themselves? What can go wrong?

Donald J. Trump and Vladimir Putin are going to meet later this month in Helsinki, Finland.

You know that already.

Here’s the kicker. The two men are going to spend some time by themselves, with only an interpreter present, in the same room.

There won’t be any senior aides. No secretary of state. No foreign minister. No national security aides.

Just the two of them.

Wow! What can go wrong with that?

Putin’s a battle-hardened veteran of summits with U.S. presidents. Trump is, um, not so experienced at this level of diplomacy — and I use the term “diplomacy” with extreme caution as it regards the president.

I’m jittery in the extreme about what Trump might give away to Putin in that one-on-one session with the former head of the KGB, the spy agency that used to dig up dirt for the Soviet Union.

Oh, and do you believe Trump is going to challenge Putin in any meaningful way about the Russian meddling in our 2016 election?

You can stop laughing any time now.

So, what about nuclear preparedness?

Hawaii residents were shaken to their core over the weekend when they thought for what seemed like forever that they were going to be blown to bits in a nuclear attack.

Their cell phones sounded an alarm and it took 38 minutes for them to learn the truth: It was a false alarm.

But, this incident begs many questions. Why did it take so long to call off the statewide panic? How did an employee “push the wrong button”?

And then there’s this: What kind of preparation are other communities throughout the United States making in case of a real nuclear attack?

I’ve been thinking about that for the past day or so. What would happen if some enemy nation launched missiles aimed at a Department of Energy facility just northeast of Amarillo, Texas? You know about which I am mentioning here: Pantex, the sprawling compound in Carson County where this nation stores nuclear warheads. Many of us here refer to it light-heartedly as “The Bomb Factory.”

But it’s no joke. They do serious work out there.

What has Amarillo done to prepare for such an event?

I have lived in the Texas Panhandle for 23 years. So help me, I never have heard about a community emergency response system. Whatever it is, I don’t know where to go.

I grew up, of course, in the duck-and-cover era when the United States faced off against the Soviet Union, the other nuclear superpower. It was just Uncle Sam vs. the Big Ol’ Bear. Us vs. Them. Good Guys vs. the Bad Guys.

Today’s world is different. The USSR morphed back into Russia, but they’ve still got plenty of nukes. So do several other nations: India, Pakistan, South Africa, China, the UK, France … maybe Israel.

Oh, and North Korea!

The SNAFU in Hawaii has alerted all of us — or at least it should alert us — that the nuclear threat remains dire, perhaps even more so than it was during the Cold War.

Are we prepared? If someone out there has a plan, let’s hear it.

I’m all ears.