Tag Archives: USSR

Senators concerned about POTUS and the nukes

More than 40 years ago, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked some tough questions about the president of the United States’ fitness to be in command of the nuclear launch codes.

President Richard Nixon was being swallowed up by the Watergate crisis. Questions arose about whether the president would do something foolish in a moment of intense political anguish.

Concerns arise once again

Flash forward. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee of today is now concerned, apparently, with the current president’s ability to handle this awesome responsibility. Senators didn’t come to any conclusions or seek any substantial change in the policy, but they got to air their concerns on the record about Donald John Trump.

As Politico reports: “We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said during a Foreign Relations Committee hearing that yielded few clear answers about checks on the commander in chief’s power. “Let’s just recognize the exceptional nature of this moment.”

Though Republicans were not as vocal about their concern, some did express worry that one person alone can make the decision to launch a nuclear war.

The president hasn’t yet demonstrated the complete understanding of command and control. He keeps popping off via Twitter, threatening North Korea with destruction.

And oh yes, the president has virtually sole authority to launch nuclear weapons. The policy was designed during the Cold War when the United States need a quick response in case the Soviet Union decided to launch missiles against us.

The Cold War is over, although the peril of a nuclear strike remains acute, given the enormous number of nuclear-armed nations around the world.

Which requires a U.S. president to be of sound temperament and judgment. The Senate panel today sought to explore those issues today as it relates to the current commander in chief.

Given the president’s behavior and the goofiness of his public pronouncements, senators have ample reason to wonder out loud about the commander in chief’s ability to keep us safe.

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.

From major threat to potential ally?

putin_trump_and_i_are-a2fab9090657f98b004db89c40af5dfd

It seems like yesterday. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president of the United States, said Russia had emerged as the most dangerous “global geopolitical threat” to the United States.

Many of us scoffed at that notion. It seemed so, oh, Cold War-ish. I mean, c’mon, Mitt! We won the Cold War. The Soviet Union vanished in 1991. Democracy was returning, albeit in dribs and drabs, to a new Russia. Isn’t that what many of us said and/or thought?

Well, it turns out Mitt was right. His critics were wrong. Russia has sought to do a lot of harm to the world and, quite possibly, to the U.S. electoral process.

But wait! This new Republican Party is being led by someone with an entirely different view of the Big Bear. Donald J. Trump is about to become president. He is forming his government. He is building his Cabinet.

Who is the new president apparently about to select as the nation’s secretary of state, its top diplomat, its foreign policy vicar? It appears to be a fellow named Rex Tillerson, head of Exxon Mobil — and a close ally of the nation Mitt ID’d as America’s top threat.

Exxon Mobil has extensive business ties in Russia. Tillerson is said to be friends with Putin.

For that matter, let’s recall that Trump has said some flattering things about the man who once ran the Soviet Union’s spy agency, the hated KGB. He called him a “strong leader”; he accepted Putin’s praise with gratitude; he invited Russia to find some missing e-mails that Hillary Clinton had deleted from her personal server while she was working as secretary of state; he suggested that Russian forces should enter Syria and take on the Islamic State; he said “wouldn’t it be great?” if we got along better with Russia.

You’ve heard the term “identity politics,” yes? It’s meant to pigeonhole certain groups and political affiliations into categories. Democrats once were identified as the party that was “soft on communism” and, thus, soft on the Soviet Union. Republicans were identified as the opposite of that squishy label.

Communism officially has died in Russia. What has emerged in its place, though, appears to be its oppressive equal.

Democrats now are alarmed at the budding U.S.-Russia coziness. Republicans — with a few notable exceptions — seem somewhat OK with it.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee and one-time Vietnam War prisoner, has expressed “concern” about Tillerson’s relationship with Putin. You would expect McCain to raise those questions; he dislikes the president-elect and he damn sure detests the Russians, given what their former agents — the North Vietnamese — did to him for more than five years in that POW cell in Hanoi.

Frankly, I am beginning to long for the good old days that, in the grand scheme, were just a little while ago.

I also am thinking the reason Mitt likely won’t get the State job has less to do with what he said about Trump — the “fraud” and “phony” stuff — and more to do with what he said about the Russians.

Listen to this guy, Mr. President-elect

mccain

One might not expect Donald J. Trump to take much of what Sen. John McCain has to say all that seriously … even about things with which he is intimately familiar.

After all, Trump said McCain wasn’t “really a war hero” during the Vietnam War, adding that “I like people who weren’t captured, OK?”

McCain, though, offers a serious word of advice to the president-elect: Do not make nice with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/john-mccain-trump-no-putin-231423

According to Politico: “Vladimir Putin has rejoined Bashar Assad in his barbaric war against the Syrian people with the resumption of large-scale Russian air and missile strikes in Idlib and Homs,” the Arizona senator who was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said in a statement. “Another brutal assault on the city of Aleppo could soon follow.”

“With the U.S. presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States,” McCain added. “We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America’s allies and attempted to undermine America’s elections.”

And Trump wants to try to get Putin on our side? He wants to link arms with the Russians in a fight to the death against the Islamic State?

McCain is correct to underscore Putin’s one-time role as the head of the Soviet spy agency, the KGB.

I’m no fan of McCain, although I certainly honor his service during the Vietnam War. He’s a war hero, no matter what Trump has said about him. McCain also understands the world stage in a way that Trump hasn’t even begun to grasp.

I almost can hear Trump now: “Who is this guy McCain telling me how to conduct foreign policy. I mean, I won a presidential election. He’s a loser.”

Sure, McCain lost the 2008 election. He knows his way around the world stage. The new president would do well to heed this man’s advice.