Did you know that Joseph Stalin proposed in 1952 that Germany be reunited as a single neutral country with free elections? The main condition was that Germany not be part of a NATO alliance, which it viewed as a military threat. Russia was under enormous pressure economically after being ravaged by World War II and wanted to reduce the growing tensions between the East and the West.
Of course, by ridiculing and ignoring this proposal it would take another forty years of Cold War hostility and posturing to reunite Germany, then as an loyal ally and military stronghold of the U.S. __ though interestingly Germany now is Russia’s most important European trading partner.
Did you know that prior to the 1963 Cuban missile crisis, Nikita Khrushchev for almost a decade proposed substantial reductions in offensive weapons? That while America was implementing the largest peace time military build-up in history, Russia was actually reducing its military capability?
Khrushchev finally became convinced, especially after the U.S. placed in nearby Turkey nuclear-tipped Jupiter missiles which could easily reach Russia, that America was bent on attacking the Soviet Union. That was the underlying reason for deploying nuclear missiles in Cuba, precipitating one of the most dangerous crises in history. Perhaps not the wisest thing to do, given the level of tensions the U.S. maintained with its constant “better dead than Red” fear mongering, nevertheless the missiles in Cuba were basically the Soviet’s attempt to achieve some sort of parity, at least a minimal acceptable level of mutually assured destruction with America.
Did you know that in 1983 the U.S. risked starting World War III with provocative and unnecessary probing of Soviet air defenses? This was purely a strategic and psychological maneuver intended to bolster support Reagan was soliciting from Congress and U.S. allies for his Star Wars missile defense system. Because at this same time the U.S. was deploying nuclear-tipped Pershing II missiles in Europe which only had a 5-minute flight time to key targets in Russia, Soviet leadership understandably viewed Star Wars not as a defensive system but as the means for establishing a first-strike capability. And it suspected the probing of its air space and testing of its defense systems was a prelude to an attack. Speculation about a first-strike nuclear attack on Russia continues to this day.
Did you know that both Reagan and Gorbachev in the end were quite sincere about totally eliminating nuclear weapons by the end of the 20th Century, that their verbal agreement during a summit in Reykjavik, Iceland to work toward eliminating the nuclear arsenals of both Russia and the U.S. was quite authentic? This was not posturing. Moreover, did you know that the whole idea for eliminating the entire nuclear arsenals of both countries was initiated by Soviet Premier Gorbachev in a letter to President Reagan January 14, 1986? It was a his idea.
Did you know that Russia only has ten foreign military bases? This is in contrast to what many estimate to be over 1000 in at minimum 156 countries by the U.S. A cursory glance at a world map shows that a substantial number of these bases form a ring around Russia. Even the most impartial observer would not view this as a coincidence and would at least appreciate why Putin and company see much of what America does as provocative, if not blatantly confrontational __ why some analysts on both sides conjecture that America is preparing to launch a “preemptive” nuclear attack on Russia, begging the question what such an attack would preempt other than the continuation of the human species.
Did you know that contrary to headlines which screamed foul in the American media, Russia never invaded Crimea? The simple fact is that there were 16,000 troops already stationed there, as per a standing treaty with the Ukrainian government. When the elected President of the Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych __ certainly corrupt and questionable in his own right __ was run out of the country by street thugs, understandably these troops were instructed to protect key physical assets in the region, as well as make sure that the many native Russians who were living there remained safe. There was no firefight, no resistance. After over 4/5ths of eligible voters demanded in a internationally-monitored referendum to rejoin Russia, the region which had been part of Russia going back to 1786, returned to Russian authority __ hardly an invasion by any stretch of the imagination. No troops stormed over the border. No shots were fired.
Did you know that far from being the instigator of the current crisis in the Ukraine, Putin has consistently played peacemaker and attempted to defuse the situation, even as native Russians came under threat from the new government in Kiev, and now are mercilessly being slaughtered in order to ethnically cleanse the Ukraine of all Russian influence? Neo-Nazis now comprise the shock troops rampaging through the eastern regions and assaulting Donetsk and Luhansk, the two strongholds of pro-Russian separatists.
Moreover, contrary to the narrative being pushed by the White House __ obviously the work of neocon lunatics still infesting the government in the State Department and think tanks within the beltway __ the evidence is quite clear that the entire coup was engineered and directed by the U.S., using agent provocateur NGOs, funded by National Endowment for Democracy. Senator John McCain and Asst. U.S. Secretary of State Victoria Nuland were even on the front lines during the demonstrations. This is, of course, not what you’re being told by the American press, which with the White House itself leading the charge continues to pin all of the blame on Russia and Putin.
Now am I making a one-sided case here? Of course not. There have for over six decades, extending right up till the present, gross deceptions and blunders on both sides. I bring up the above examples because the collective memory of the American public seems to be very short. Or more likely, many well-meaning Americans may not even be familiar with these particular facts in the first place. Anything good about the Soviets __ and now the Russians __ tends to be overwhelmed and replaced by the firmly entrenched and much easier to embrace “black hat” characterization we now hear regurgitated over and over.
What I am saying is there has already been so much misunderstanding, miscalculation, and missed opportunities, that to compound our bleak and tendentious relationship with Russia with more misunderstanding, miscalculation, and missed opportunities, is courting disaster. It’s that simple. What’s been going on is not working. Time for a new approach.
And I am also saying that America lately bears more than its share of responsibility for the distortions, the slander, the disinformation, which has aggravated hostility toward Russia both by leaders in their official capacities, and now by American citizens, who never seem to run out of foreign peoples to fear, mistrust, even hate.
Let me throw something else into the mix here. This is probably the most important factor whenever we look at Russia and try to gauge her motives and intents.
The Soviet Union lost more than 21,000,000 people in World War II. Most were killed in the Russian homeland itself as a result of the overwhelming German Nazi blitz. Over a half million died in the Battle of Stalingrad alone.
That is why they are fearful of having troops and/or ballistic missiles on their borders __ as in the Ukraine or Georgia. They have been gritting their teeth as NATO has edged its way closer and closer to Russia __ contrary, by the way, to reassurances given right after the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany. America lost 420,000 soldiers during all of World War II, fighting on two fronts, in Europe and the Far East. If we had seen 22,000,000 Americans killed, the blood of the majority spilled right here on our own soil, how would we feel about having troops, nuclear-tipped tactical missiles, and ballistic missile defense radars and interceptors arrayed along the Canadian or Mexican borders? How would we read the intention of any nation insisting on putting these on our borders?
As they say, this is not rocket science.
What might require the intellectual aptitude of a rocket scientist is trying to understand what America’s strategic planners have in mind in promoting this agenda. It undermines any possibility of peace between the two great powers and risks thermonuclear war.
Am I a Russia lover?
An America hater?
I just think before we kill a few more million people or destroy the world, we might want to look at both sides of each issue, maybe mentally trade places, try to be fair and reasonable, give our all to try to understand exactly what is going on.
And a big part of understanding issues is knowing history, taking into consideration what has been occurring for decades, sometimes even centuries. To paraphrase Santayana: “Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes.”
It would be one thing if the feud between Obama and Putin were just some school yard scrap between two pubescent boys over the hottest girl on the cheer leading team __ it certainly at times resembles that. But these are the heads of state for two major countries armed to the teeth with nuclear missiles, weighed with almost seven decades of bad blood between them, much of the bad blood alarmingly the product of gross misunderstanding. The price of more of the same aggravation and contentiousness is at best wasting valuable resources and energy which could be devoted to mounting crises __ climate change, the rapid destruction of the oceans, spread of antibiotic-resistant disease, depletion of water resources throughout the world, increasing risk of widespread famine, the urgent need to secure vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons from access by terrorists __ at worst an epic nuclear holocaust which puts the human race in a giant coffin.
Isn’t it time to put away the gang colors?
The black hats and the white hats?
Russia Bad! America Good!
Nothing is that simple.
Unless you’re simpleminded.