Tag Archives: USSR

Architect of Cold War end dies

Americans have spent a lot of emotional capital over the past 30 years congratulating two U.S. presidents over their role in the demise of the Cold War and of the Soviet Union.

Yes, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush deserve credit for their roles in ending the “original” Cold War.

However, I want to offer a tribute to a third world leader who today passed from the scene. Mikhail Gorbachev, the final premier of what we used to know as the Soviet Union, died at age 91.

He, at least as much as the two U.S. presidents, is responsible for ending the age of duck-and-cover drills and worries about nuclear-missile strikes from the Evil Empire.

Gorbachev surrendered his office when the Soviet Union evaporated. He turned it over the Boris Yeltsin, who then had the unenviable task of trying to turn an ironclad dictatorship into something that resembled a democratic society. It hasn’t worked out … yet!

The United States was able to win the Cold War of attrition by forcing the Soviets to build weapons they couldn’t afford. The Soviets bankrupted their economy by building nukes and all manner of military hardware they still like to put on parade in Red Square.

Gorbachev recognized what so many of his communist predecessors ignored.

So, when President Reagan stood at the Hindenberg Gate in Berlin and declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” the Soviet leader well might have actually listened on that day.

The Berlin Wall came down in 1989, thanks to Gorbachev’s acknowledging he was on the wrong side of history. Two years after that? He said goodbye to the Soviet Union.

Hey, don’t misunderstand me. I stand with those who applaud Presidents Reagan and Bush for the strength they showed in waging the Cold War with the Soviet Union. I also want to applaud Gorbachev for acting on the realization that the communist experiment in his country was a monumental failure.

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And I cannot pay tribute to Gorbachev’s wisdom without mentioning one of his descendants’ idiotic view that the Soviet demise was a “dark day” in the history of his country. Vladimir Putin is as wrong to want a return to that hideous system as he was wrong to presume that he could take over Ukraine in a matter of days.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

NATO stands as one

It is impossible to overstate the diplomatic victory that President Biden has scored as he seeks to get Russia to stand down in its military invasion of Ukraine.

The victory involves the unanimous support for Ukraine by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which leads me to hope — if not yet believe — that Russian goon Vladimir Putin will resist launching an attack on any of the NATO nations that border Ukraine.

NATO has this document called Article V, which declares that an attack on a single NATO nation is an attack on all of them. It reminds me of the warning President Kennedy issued in October 1962 when the USSR was erecting missile launch sites in Cuba; JFK told the Soviet leadership that an attack against any nation in the Western Hemisphere would bring a “full retaliatory response” from the United States.

President Biden has made essentially the same declaration, as has NATO, which is that the organization formed to protect Western Europe against the Soviet threat would respond collectively if the  Russians attacked any NATO state.

Think of where U.S.-NATO relations have gone since the Donald Trump administration. Trump castigated NATO over whether European members were paying their fair share of the cost. Yes, many of the nations have stepped up their financial load, but they did not trust the U.S. president to be there if a crisis exploded.

President Biden has helped restore that trust and in the process well might have acquired some leverage to keep the Russians from committing an act of utter foolishness.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Politics turned on its ear

Our crazy, nutty political world has become a topsy-turvy mix that bears little resemblance to the world many of us once knew.

There once was a time when Democrats were seen as being “soft” on Russia, which once was known as the Soviet Union, an empire cobbled together by the communists who took over the Russian government after World War I. Republicans became known as the anti-communist party. The nation was divided along a line that defined the two major political parties over their relative antipathy toward Russia/Soviet Union.

Do you remember when Ronald W. Reagan defined the Soviets as the Evil Empire?

Reagan is gone. So is the Soviet Union. Russia emerged from the rubble of the Cold War. These days Russia is governed by a tyrant — Vladimir Putin — who two months ago decided to invade Ukraine, one of the former Soviet republics that has functioned nicely as a sovereign state since USSR collapsed in 1991.

Who among the American political movement is now lined up (more or less) in Russia’s camp? It’s those Republican descendants of Ronald Reagan, but whose allegiance now rests with the Russian tyrant’s pal who once served as president of the United States.

We hear Democrats, for crying out loud, now speaking of Russia with language that Republicans used to speak when condemning the Russians. We hear occasional rants from right-wingers — the former commie haters — wondering about why Americans are all worked up over what the Russians have done.

We also hear from the occasional Republican politician uttering outrageous statements about who’s to blame for the atrocities we see revealed as Russians retreat from captured territory.

I’m confused beyond my ability to comprehend matters over the flip-flop we are witnessing. Someone will have to explain it to me.

But … wait! I think I know. It’s that former POTUS, Putin’s pal, who continues to call the tune to which Republican pols and their media pals are marching.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

‘Bravery and honor,’ indeed

You know, some things do not need to be embellished with prose and platitudes.

This social media meme is one of those things.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has stood tall against the Russian onslaught against his nation. Think for just a moment what this young man was doing before he became the leader of a sovereign nation that once was part of the Soviet empire.

He was a comedian and an actor. He pranced around movie sets acting like some sort of goofball. Then he got elected president of Ukraine. He became the focus of an impeachment trial of a former U.S. president.

Now he is facing down the military force of Russia launched against his country for reasons that defy explanation.

Yep. The young man is a hero.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Russians project false power

If I had a ruble for every instance I have heard that Russia is a “great power” … I would have a lot of rubles, but they wouldn’t be worth more than the cost of a cheap shot of vodka.

Russia is not a great power, even though it is trying to flex its military muscle in Ukraine. Yes, Russia possesses a lot of nuclear weapons left over from the days it existed as the Soviet Union and the Soviets tried to bully the United States during the Cold War.

Russia’s conventional force is being revealed to be something of a feckless machine, with command and control not knowing how to find its backside with both hands. How else can one explain how that vaunted and powerful convoy of military equipment got bogged down on its way the Ukraine capital city of Kyiv.

Granted, the convoy got unstuck and is now moving on the capital city. Once it arrives, we are likely to see how adept the Russians are at fighting street to street, house to house, room to room against Ukrainians who are highly motivated to fight like hell to keep the invaders from taking over their homeland.

I realize fully that the war likely won’t end with a Ukrainian victory, with Ukraine being able to declare it has defeated Russia. However, the performance on the field of battle by the Russians has disproven to my satisfaction that the former Evil Empire isn’t quite as formidable as its propaganda machine would have us believe.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Putin has gone MAD

There needs to be a universal understanding of what is transpiring in Ukraine. Stay with me, as I will say this slowly and clearly: Vladimir Putin has attacked a sovereign country on Russia’s western border and is seeking to bring Ukrainians under Russian control; therefore, Vladimir Putin is the aggressor in this conflict.

OK. Are we clear on that?

What, then, in this world of ours is preventing some Americans — and some others around the world — from recognizing what is plainly obvious?

Some right-wing media nut jobs in the U.S.A. are suggesting out loud and in plain English that Ukraine has invited this naked aggression. By doing what, precisely? By, um, cozying up to its European neighbors? By suggesting it might want to join another treaty organization, such as, NATO?

Vladimir Putin’s flagrant assault on Ukraine is without a shred of merit.

The Russian dictator has lamented the end of the Soviet Union, calling it a dark day in history. He wants the USSR restored. I fear greatly he has re-started the Cold War with the United States and the rest of the “free world.”

He blusters about possessing those nukes and his top aides have threatened to use them if anyone interferes in this fight with Ukraine.

I now will remind Putin of the term with which I am certain he is familiar. That term is MAD, an acronym for “mutually assured destruction.” The United States has nukes, too, and the superpowers’ possession of those massive weapons kept them from destroying themselves and the rest of the world.

Putin’s aggression has brought us all — perhaps — to the brink of MADness once again.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Putin’s launches frightening power quest

Vladimir Putin’s lust for power is an astonishing sight to behold as the world awaits what appears to be coming: a violent invasion of a sovereign nation.

The Russian dictator is concocting excuses to invade Ukraine, a nation that once belonged to the Soviet Union’s empire of states, but which has established itself as an important independent nation on the western border of what is now the Russian Federation.

Putin wants it back. He appears set to send in the armed forces on a beeline to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city. He believes he will take control of the city of 2.8 million residents in short order. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

President Biden has done a good job of gathering allied support in leveling stern and damaging economic sanctions against Putin and the Russian economy. Germany has announced plans to shut down a natural gas pipeline from Russia, which is going to inflict serious harm to Putin’s nation. Biden is set to lower the economic boom on Russia as well, now that the window for a diplomatic solution appears to be closing rapidly.

Through it all, though, we have Vladimir Putin not giving a damn about what all this means to his people, to his standing among world leaders or to his legacy. He’s a bad dude to be sure.

Putin’s history of evil intent is clear, as he once led the Soviet spy agency, the KGB, during the Cold War. Thus, reports that he plans to enact some sort of “ethnic cleansing” in Ukraine if his troops take over the country should not surprise anyone.

I know there isn’t a damn thing on Earth I can do about any of this, other than to express my extreme displeasure over the danger that this tinhorn despot is able to place on the world we all inhabit.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Russians have pals … on the right!

OK, let me see if I have this correct. The Republican Party that once vilified Russians as being part of an Evil Empire, whose president once muttered into an open mic that he would launch missiles at the Soviet Union in “five minutes,” and who kept their grip on power by refusing to give the enemy any quarter is now in bed with the latest Russian dictator.

GOP members of Congress along with their friends in the right-wing media are criticizing President Biden’s actions against the Russians, contending that Ukraine is the real villain in the growing crisis in Europe.

Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush 41 are spinning in their graves at this moment.

We are hearing next to nothing from the right-wingers among us criticizing the actions of Vladimir Putin, who is threatening all-out war against Ukraine. The nut jobs on the right instead are criticizing the Democratic U.S. president for, um, threatening to levy stiff, punishing sanctions on Russians if they launch an invasion of Ukraine.

Those of us who remember the Cold War also remember a time when GOP politicians took great pride in standing firm against tyrants such as those who ruled the Soviet Union, which later returned to just being ol’ Russia after the collapse of communism in the early 1990s. Yes, some of expressed hope then that Russia would follow the model set by the United States and many nations in western Europe. Alas, it didn’t happen. We are dealing now with yet another strongman in the form of Putin, who has declared that the fall of the USSR was his country’s darkest historic moment.

What in the world am I missing here?

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Putin = madness

(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Vladimir Putin is insane. That’s the only “diagnosis” I can offer while watching the Russian strongman flirt with going to war with another sovereign nation for reasons I cannot begin to understand.

As I write these words, Putin’s armed forces are staging and preparing — we are led to believe — to invade Ukraine. Putin wants some sort of assurance that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a pact of nations formed to deter the former Soviet Union from going to war with the rest of Europe.

The Soviet Union no longer exists. The Russian Federation took its place and now Putin is rattling his sabers and seeking to conquer Ukraine, which used to be a “republic” as part of the old USSR.

One thing has changed, and it’s a big one. Ukraine is now a sovereign nation. Just like Russia. Just like all the former Soviet republics. Russia surrendered control over those nations in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved. I am having difficulty understanding what is going through Putin’s sinister mind.

How in the name of international law can this lunatic justify invading Ukraine? How can Putin explain to Russians that they’re going to pay for the strongman’s desire to re-take control of a nation that now has its own president and its own economy?

Yes, the Russians are going to suffer grievously if Putin sends in the tanks and the troops. President Biden vows swift and destructive sanctions if the Russians invade Ukraine. So, there’s that. Also, Ukraine is not defenseless. Ukrainian armed forces are prepared to inflict horrible damage on the invading forces; get ready to welcome the caskets home, Vlad Putin.

Oh, and then there is the fallout that the nations of the world will shower all over Russia if it inflicts serious damage to Ukraine’s civilian population.

Vladimir Putin doesn’t care about any of it?

The Russian goon is out of his mind.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

 

How would The Gipper fare in today’s GOP?

A social media post commemorating the election 39 years ago today of Ronald Reagan as our nation’s 40th president prompted me to wonder: How would President Reagan fare in what passes today as the Republican Party?

My hunch? Not well.

I will stipulate that I did not vote for Reagan in 1980 or in 1984. He won both elections in historic landslide proportions.

However, I acknowledge readily that Ronald Reagan was authentic. He adhered to what I believe are traditional GOP principles and policies. He sought to reduce government spending. He sought to reduce taxes. He believed in a strong national defense.

Most of all, though, he detested communism and the governments that promote what he considered to be an “evil” philosophy.

That brings me to the point of this blog: President Reagan would be aghast and appalled at Donald Trump’s flirtation with the direct descendants of the Evil Empire, aka the Soviet Union.

I get that Reagan met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and forged a partnership of sorts with him. However, the president never took his eye off the threat that the USSR posed to us militarily.

I also am trying to picture a moment where Ronald Reagan would declare in public that he trusted the word of a Soviet leader over the word of our nation’s intelligence experts. Suppose the CIA had determined that the Soviets had attacked our election in an effort to influence its outcome … and that the intelligence network had blamed the Soviets for its all-out attack on our electoral system. Who do you think Reagan would believe, our spooks or the commies?

You know the answer. Thus, for Donald Trump to pretend to be a Republican who endorses traditional Republican policies regarding our nation’s adversaries is, well, laughable on its face.

Except that no one should be laughing.

Today’s Republican Party bears no resemblance to The Gipper’s GOP. It has been hijacked by a flim-flam artist, a charlatan and a fraud. To that extent, Donald Trump makes me actually miss President Reagan.

Imagine that. I know. It’s weird.