Russia Takes Control of Crimea

March 19, 2014

My analysis of the current situation in Crimea

New Commentary on Ukraine

March 5, 2014

New commentary on Putin and the Ukraine on Fox

Cold War Redux

February 28, 2014

Americans have short or completely absent memories about contemporary history, in fact anything beyond last year is a blur. So when Vlad Putin drags out neo-Nazis and paramilitary contract thugs to threaten the fledgling government of the Ukraine and we ” just” talk tough, political blather about restarting the Cold War with the “Ruskis” often draws hesitant agreement from the man and woman on the street

Let this child of the 50s and 60s provide a reality check. The Cold War with Russia was about matching nuclear warhead for nuclear warhead, kids hiding under their desks just in case the bombs started dropping, the Cuban Missile Crisis bringing us as close to an end of the world war as possible, and both governments spending trillions and trillions of dollars on new weapons, including Ronald Reagan’s hare-brained idea about putting Star War-like laser missiles in outer space to shoot down Russian ICBMs.

We do not want to start a second Cold War with the Russians, not just because of the cost or the competition or the crisis-mongering that goes with such a strategy, but because we too quickly leave behind the practice of diplomacy, alliance building, economic sanctions, and assistance to those battling the Russians and move quickly to the argument that we need to spend trillions and trillions more on the military to show Putin that we are serious.

All this talk of restarting the Cold War from Democrats and Republicans is really about saving what President Dwight Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex, in short the companies that make their living and fatten their bottom lines by building weapons and weapons related hardware. Through what remains of bipartisan cooperation in Congress and the White House, the budget has been cut, the deficit is in retreat and the economy is on the right track. Now because parts of the world are in chaos and the Russians are behind some of the chaos, the first response by some is to fire up the defense budget, send the fleet in Italy to the Black Sea, put the fighter jets in Turkey on high alert and tell those Marines to prepare to deploy.

Let’s all take a deep breath, remember that the Cold War was a scary and costly period in our history, let the diplomats have their shot at solving problems with the Russians, and in the meantime let Putin know that the western democracies are united against him. He’s a bully and a tyrant, but he also smart enough to know that the economic and political power of the west cannot be ignored.

Believe this child of the 50s and 60s, we don’t want another Cold War.

Analysis of the Ukraine uprising

February 20, 2014

Commentary on Fox News about US options in the Ukraine

The Sochi Blues

February 5, 2014

With the Winter Olympics starting this weekend get ready for some extended couch potato time. NBC will overwhelm viewers with not just the individual sporting events, but every nugget of background information about the athletes, coaches, parents, and of course the Russians who are hosting this extravaganza.

There have been miles and miles of analysis and critiques of the Russian Winter Olympics concentrating on huge cost overruns, corruption, callous displacement of people, anti-gay comments, restrictions on protests and of course terrorist threats. There is no need to add to this endless stream of punditry, except to remind the viewers sitting on their couches that they are watching a major sporting event from the former Communist Soviet Union, now mistakenly called the Russian Republic. What that means is that despite the democratic sounding national title it is difficult to remove the culture of communism from the Olympics. It may be a bit of an exaggeration but ” Once a Commie, always a Commie.”

Communism in the Soviet Union was marked by cruel rulers ( now Vladimir Putin), inefficient state enterprises that turned out junk products ( the unimaginative Olympic venues and shoddy workmanship in the hotels), phony concern for the workers ( cronyism, no-bid contracts, despoilment of private land), and brutish behavior ( surly guards, stubborn bureaucrats, and an ingrained fear of foreigners). So even though there are pictures of a smiling Putin, shiny buildings, and welcome signs everywhere, the whole enterprise is a facade hiding the fact that not much has changed in Russia since the end of Communism.

From an American perspective it would be great if we captured a good portion of the gold while the Russians suffered embarrassing defeats. This is not only patriotism rising to the forefront but a condemnation of an Olympics hosted by a country that does not represent that values of the Olympics – sportsmanship, honesty, team spirit, and goodwill. Russia is one of those second tier countries that is on the ” make” and wants to send a message to the world that it is back from the embarrassment of communism’s fall. But it is not really back, it is pretty much the same old Soviet Union now called Russia.