Tag Archives: USSR

‘Congratulations,’ Poland … on being invaded and brutalized?

Donald Trump’s lack of historical perspective is astonishing in the extreme, such as what he displayed today when given a chance to comment on the 80th year since the start of World War II.

A reporter asked the president if he had any words to offer to Poland, where he was scheduled to visit this week to commemorate the launch of that massive and bloody conflict. He stayed home to “monitor” the progress of Hurricane Dorian.

Trump mentioned that the vice president, Mike Pence, was going to “represent me” and the United States at event in Poland marking the event.

And then … he offered a word of “congratulations” to Poland. Yes, congratulations. For what? For being invaded and brutalized by the 20th century’s most despicable tyrant, Adolf Hitler? Or, for being attacked as well from the east by the Red Army, which operated under a non-aggression pact signed by Hitler and Soviet tyrant Josef Stalin?

Trump then offered his customary ignorant platitudes about Poland being a “great country” with “great people,” compliments he could apply to virtually any country on Earth — with the exception of the “sh**hole” nations that produce all those immigrants who seek entry into the United States.

The president’s lack of knowledge of — or empathy for — the suffering of others is manifestly evident to me when he makes observations such as what he offered today.

Disgraceful.

Russia needs to change its ways, Mr. President

Mr. President, I know you’re busy hobnobbing with world leaders at the G7 summit, but bear with me for a moment or two.

You’re insistence that Russia be brought back into the group of leading industrialized nations misses at least a couple of  fundamental points.

First, the entire coalition of nations kicked Russia out of its ranks because of Vladimir Putin’s interference in Ukrainian affairs. It was President Obama’s deal; Obama wasn’t “outsmarted” by Putin or anyone else.

Yet you keep blaming your immediate predecessor for matters over which he had little actual singular impact. Knock that off, Mr. President.

Second, Russia is a third-rate industrial and economic power. It can barely feed its people. Several U.S. states produced more Gross Domestic Product than Russia. I’d bet real money that Texas, California, New York and Florida all outperform the Russian economy.

The G7 comprises economic powerhouses, Mr. President. Russia ain’t there. It’s a struggling Third World nation with admittedly lots of nuclear weapons held over from the Soviet days and the Cold War the USSR lost when it competed against the United States.

Why did the Soviet Union collapse? I’ll tell you why. It collapsed because the communists were spent. They ran out of gas. They couldn’t compete any longer with the West, the United States, with anyone. It faded into oblivion and left behind a corrupt, crime-ridden government that sought to create some form of “democratic” rule, but has devolved into the authoritarian system you seem to admire.

And why in the world do you want to be partners with a nation that attacked our electoral system in 2016? Oh, wait! I almost forgot! Putin said he didn’t do it and you believe him over the word of our crack intelligence team that says the Russians attacked us with the aim of getting you elected president.

Russia doesn’t deserve to be a part of any sort of coalition of industrialized powers. Not until it actually becomes one.

And for crying out loud, Mr. President, not until you finally, if ever, condemn the Russians for attacking the system of government you swore you would protect.

Your kowtowing to the Russians makes me sick.

Then again, so do you!

When did GOP surrender its anti-Russia standing?

Those of us who are old enough to remember such things must be wondering: What has become of the Republican Party’s historic animosity toward Russia?

The party of Ike, Nixon and Reagan has become squishier than the Democrats were during those earlier eras. Russia — which once was known as the Soviet Union — attacked our electoral system in 2016. They did with malicious intent to disrupt our process and sow discontent among Americans about the integrity of our voting system.

They have succeeded.

Democrats now are incensed. Republicans? They are silent.

Democrats are pushing for measures in Congress that would strengthen electoral integrity and security. Republican leaders are blocking it.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller III told the nation that Russians not only attacked our 2016 electoral system in “sweeping” and “systematic” fashion, but are in the process of attacking our system at this moment.

The GOP leadership in Congress — and in the White House — are acting as if, “Hey, no big deal!”

History reminds us that in the days of Dwight Eisenhower, we shored up our military to counter the Soviet Union’s aspirations to become he world’s greatest power. Then came Richard Nixon, the noted communist-hater who made no apologies for his hatred and mistrust of the Soviet leadership. After that, the nation heard Ronald Reagan refer to the USSR as the “evil empire” and once joked into an open mic that he had just “outlawed Russia; bombing begins in five minutes.”

These days the equation has been flipped on its ear. Republicans give Russians a pass on the attack they have launched on our electoral system. Democrats have become the hardliners.

I believe this is a manifestation of the Donald Trump Era of national politics. What once was “normal” no longer is normal. Conduct we used to abhor has become part of what we believe is a “new normal.”

Russian attacks on our political system that used to become fodder for Republican politicians’ ire have become reasons for them to zip their lips. They say nothing. Meanwhile, the Democrats have become the hardliners.

What gives?

Hoping for a return of a can-do spirit and drive

Americans are looking back with some sort of fondness at an event that occurred 50 years ago.

Yes, we won that race to the moon. Two American astronauts landed on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong stepped off the lander’s ladder and declared that he was taking “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

For years I had thought that Armstrong’s transmission got garbled somehow, that he really did say it was one “small step for a man.” Alas, that was mistaken … apparently. Armstrong flubbed the line, or so I learned.

President Kennedy had laid down the marker in 1961. He declared that we should get to the moon by the end of the 1960s. The president rallied the nation to his dream. He ventured to Houston and said that “we don’t do these things because they are easy. We do them because they are hard.”

And so the race was on.

Hey, we had a geopolitical adversary that had rubbed our noses in it. The Soviet Union launched the first satellite. The USSR put the first man into space.

Meanwhile, as the nation’s prepared to launch humans into space, we couldn’t get a rocket off the pad. They were exploding. Our national psyche suffered.

But we got into space. We put two men into sub-orbital flight. We finally put a man into orbit with John Glenn’s historic three-orbit flight in February 1962.

President Kennedy, of course, didn’t live to see his dream come true. Still, the mission proceeded at full throttle.

The Apollo 11 mission was the culmination of a national task. The world held its breath. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left indelible prints on the dusty lunar surface. Those boot prints remain there to this day. There would be others, too.

Over the span of time our manned missions dissipated and all but disappeared. The Soviet Union vanished from Earth in 1991. Russian rockets are taking Americans into space these days. I wonder what President Kennedy would think of that development.

I suppose you could say that the Apollo 11 mission was the beginning of our exploration of another celestial body. It actually was the beginning of the end of our grand adventure.

However, I do hope we get back into space. Human beings need to explore. We are built and wired to do great things.

A half-century ago we cheered the heroism of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the third astronaut who orbited the moon while waiting for his shipmates to return. These men exemplified a can-do spirit that I am missing today.

I hope we can find it … and soon.

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.”