Monday, October 17, 2016

The Lies of War

I am very concerned about the increasing demonizing of Russian president Vladimir Putin in the western world. That's what governments do when they are working people up to a war fever. The first casualty of war is the truth. Well, the second casualty is the reputation of your enemy. They're demons, not people like us! It's OK to kill them. Time for the two minutes of hate!

We were allies with Stalin in WWII, a known butcher. The Red Army was responsible for 80% of the destruction of the Wehrmacht. They lost over twenty million people, one million alone starved to death in the siege of Leningrad. Kennedy worked with Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crises to a peaceful resolution. Remember Khrushchev? The guy sitting at the table at the UN, banging his shoe and shouting, "We will bury you?" Ya, that guy. We even negotiated with him.

Every president from JFK to Reagan negotiated with the Kremlin. Both sides were afraid of MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction. Both sides cooperated to maintain the balance of power and to significantly reduce the threat. Nuclear stockpiles were reduced by over 90% from their all-time high during that time. Reagan worked with Gorbachev to end the Cold War. They built a new Russia. Obama has worked with Putin on several occasions on Iran, Ukraine, Syria, and another nuclear treaty, which Russia recently pulled out of as nuclear tensions have started escalating.

Before wars break there is a blitzkrieg of lies. Saddam Hussein's WMD. They lied to Colin Powell to get him to testify to the UN about nonexistent WMD's. And Bush 2 later admitted that Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. Syria didn't use Sarin gas on protestors. Libya. Gee, they didn't even tell lies about Libya. They just went in and destroyed the country. The Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened. Are we getting programmed for another regime change and scorched earth, this time in Russia? We may find the experience unlike those before. Russia was invaded in living memory. They may take our saber rattling seriously. All this for the people Bush 1 referred to as "the crazies in the basement?"

Trump wants to negotiate with the Kremlin. Works for me.

Unfortunately, mad is no longer an acronym. It is a description of the mood in Washington.

Vladimir Putin is the democratically elected president of the modern democracy of Russia, which is only 26 years old. He enjoys an 80+% approval rating from its citizens. He is not a dictator. He does not want to bring back the Stalinist USSR. He wants to integrate Russia with Europe, not conquer it. He is no threat to the Baltics. He did not invade the Ukraine-even Kissinger admitted this in an interview with der Spiegel. He only invaded Georgia after the Georgian military had besieged the Russian population of South Ossetia.  And once the threat was neutralized, he brought the army home when he could have annexed the whole country had he been serious about resurrecting the USSR. He personally oversaw the security of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He didn't want a repeat of the 1972 Munich Olympic terrorist attack. Instead, he wanted to show the world that Russia was capable of hosting a modern Olympic games and could be relied on as a partner. Instead, he got a coup d'etat in Kiev.

He was formally asked to assist the Syrians fighting terrorists by the democratically elected president of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad, who also is popular with his people. Since Russia's intervention last year, the Islamic State terrorists have been significantly weakened and the civil war nearer a conclusion. But all we hear of is alleged war crimes? CNN reporters shedding crocodile tears over children in hospitals?  Has anyone looked at what US backed Saudis are doing in Yemen? And the Saudis are not big on Democracy, either. And do you remember Madeline Albright's, "500,000 dead Iraqi children are worth it?" Worth what!?

Is Putin perfect? Of course not. He's the president of the second most powerful country on earth which means he's not Mister Rogers. But he can be negotiated with just like all of those we negotiated with in the past. He's better than most, even. He may not be George Washington, but he certainly is not Joseph Stalin, either. He is above all a pragmatist.

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