Not the time for nuclear confrontation

The only real thing you have to know about Vladimir Putin is that at heart, he is a KGB colonel. He doesn’t particularly care what you think about him. The only thing that KGB colonels, of the Putin style, care about is power and how to use it. Look, there is no Soviet Union. Theoretically, it’s gone. But is it? Let’s take a look and see.

Russia has always been headed by strong men and women. You can call these people dictators and you can call the people who live in the country “strong man dependent.” Russia has no real history of democracy or balanced government. If Barack Obama wants to do something, he has to get it through two houses of Congress, including a Republican House of Representatives (otherwise known as the “Land of No”). If Putin wants to do something, he does it.

Let’s face it — the last thing the Russians want is to be perceived as a humiliated nation. On the other hand, polling data does not show widespread support for a war over Ukraine. If you could look into Putin’s brain, you would find a man who wants to give Russia a shot in the arm. He needs the support of the people. From that perspective, his moves in Ukraine are perfectly understandable. Nikita Khrushchev gave Crimea back to his native Ukraine but, of course, the Russians were allowed to keep their Black Sea naval facility and had tremendous influence in the whole country. Ukraine was solidly within the “sphere of influence” of the Russians and when it appeared that some in the country wanted closer ties with the European community, the Russians said no. Stalin and his ilk moved a lot of Russians into Ukraine where they now reside. That group feels threatened.

It is pretty well understood that whoever held the seat of power in Ukraine was ethically compromised. Take a look at the last occupant, Victor Yanukovych, who has just been forced from power. The papers that were retrieved as he fled for his life apparently show massive, almost unimaginable corruption. Not only that, many reports show that among the Kiev Ukrainians are people of many stripes, including fascists. Into all of this comes the president of the United States. The Republicans, with their “just say no” to the president, use this, as they have used everything else, to hammer Obama. I keep asking anyone who thinks that he has not been forceful enough what they would do. Do they really think we should get into a confrontation with the nuclear-armed Russians? There may be a time when that is necessary but that time is not now. Some will argue that this kind of territorial push is what happened leading up to World War II. In other words, if Putin is allowed to take territory any time he wishes, we could be looking at another Hitler-like situation.

My bet is that Putin has had enough. When the last so-called Ukrainian revolution took place, the first thing the new and possibly illegal parliament did was to limit the use of the Russian language. Talk about really dumb moves. On the other hand, Putin has an interdependent relationship with the western powers and the last thing he needs is a threat to that relationship. Germany is dependent on Russia for a great deal of its natural gas. While it is true that Germany needs the gas, it is also true that Russia needs the money that pays for the gas.

As it stands now, Putin has pulled back. Whether he stays back is largely up to the group of Western governments. If they say Putin has to be punished and sanctioned, he may feel that he has nothing to lose by exhibiting more aggressive behavior. If they let him off the hook, he ends up with Crimea. Hey, in this world, nothing is easy.

Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 3/8/14

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One Comment on “Not the time for nuclear confrontation”

  1. Harvey Brody Says:

    Alan, your years of academia are showing. Fortunately you have been exposed to the real world through WAMC. the expression “bigger picture” is applicable. I have no problem with the behavior of Mr. Putin. He has been consistent, even when the American President at the time, panicked, when the news of 911 was given to him, Mr. Putin was one of the first leaders of another country to offer their resources without hesitation.. Bush said no; instead making an endless war in the Middle East.. Mr. Putin has made it clear that he dreams about a new Soviet Union. Missing from your analysis of current events in the Crimea is that Russian has a long term on their only freshwater port there, and apparently surprising everyone but Russia is that Russia has the right to have up to 24,000 troops in the Ukraine. The Russian-puppet elected legally in an election has approved the activation of the treaty. It is nice to see many individuals exercising their rights, however the same individuals physically ejected the Russian Ukrainians President from his home and forced him into exile. Of course if it quacks like a duck, etc.. This is a regression back to the ridiculous policy of Mr. Obama instead of Arab Spring, let us call it Ukraine Spring. We all know what happened in Arab Spring. It was a regression back to fundamentalist Islam. Even our puppets we made in Afghanistan and Iraq. Have more contact with Iran than the US. Not to forget that Mr. Putin advised the US not to even think about occupying Afghanistan or Iraq. Just get the objectives achieved, and use history as a guide. Funny but history is a strange beast. Ukraine was the most helpful ally of the Third Reich in any way possible. Who are you going to sanction? The European countries that depend upon the Russian Federation to supply them with natural gas? Or sanction an adjoining nation after a literal military coup, to not hold elections to determine their faith?. Years ago the US had an endless war in Southeast Asia that actually began when the US promised to end colonial rule after Japan was defeated, and never did; or when a rabid CIA caused the removal of a democratically elected leader of Iran in 1953..My advice is simple. If our domestic suppression of constitutional rights amplified by an illegal program of foreign and domestic spying was unable to see the thousands of Russian troops moving into the Ukraine; I want a refund of the $Billions of American tax dollars spent., I think we should quickly learn why, and also fire a couple of people. The problem is with the United States and not with the Russian Federation. Mr. Obama is a great orator with a teleprompter, and probably a fund person to be with. But, must we accept dumbing down with our American foreign policy?

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