A New Cold War?

Check out the current status in Ukraine here: http://abcnews.go.com/International/ukraine-date-guide/story?id=22768235

It’s hard to believe the Cold War has been over for 25 years. Being a bit older, I grew up in the 50s and 60s during the Cold War. We actually did the drills in elementary school where you would “dug and cover” beneath your desk. Looking back on it, a cheap wood and steel desk would offer little protection against a high-yield thermonuclear blast. But the activity thrust the terrible reality into our little minds. My dad was in the Air Force, and for several years, his job was to fly the technicians to the various missile silos in the West from our base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Both the USSR and the USA had tens of thousands of missiles and warheads, only a few of which would have been necessary to eliminate all life on Earth. After so much time, it is hard to realize how things could have gotten so far out of control. Well, now we have Ukraine. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it is troubling to see the Russian Bear exercising its formidable power on another country. The people in every other former Soviet satellite country have to be quaking in their boots. What is it about the Russian psyche, or at least that of Russian leadership, to be so afraid of attack that they needed a number of buffer states to protect the Motherland?

I have two theories. On one hand, Russians have every right to fear intervention. Just look at the history books. Both Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte set their sights on Russia. In both cases, it did not turn out so well for the invaders. The other possibility is the desire for Empire. The glory days of Russia include the tales of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. Most governments and cultures have given up on Empire, but I am not certain Russia has. If they are still of such mind, the future looks very grim for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, all of which used to be under their hegemony.

The one factor I am certain has nothing to do with it is Communism, which never worked in the USSR and continues not to work in China, North Korea and Cuba. Let’s face it. None of those places are Communist. They are autocracies. The folks at the top control everything (what Marx called the Benevolent Dictator, two words that should never be placed together), and mete out the least they can to keep everyone else alive.

I used to work with a factory in Partizanske, Slovakia, part of Soviet Czechoslovakia. I had many meals and meetings with people who lived under the USSR. A Polish production manager once told me why he looked forward to Christmas every year. Each December, every family would be allowed to buy 2 pounds of bananas (from Cuba). That’s it! The rest of the year, there were no bananas. It was a Spartan life, contrasted by the Politburo and their palaces and luxuries.

Enough memories! What do you think is going to happen next? And if Russia moves into Ukraine, what do you think the rest of the world will or should do about it?

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