History to Now

“There is no sanctuary so holy that money cannot profane it, no fortress so strong that money cannot take it by storm.”
-Marcus Tullius Cicero

Since Reagan left office, he has continued to hold an unassailable approval rating of approximately 68%. Despite scandals, voodoo economics, and a host of other questionable issues, the one thing we can hold him to history’s harsh review and still say, “yes, here he led the way,” was 1987. Are you scratching your head and wondering, what happened in 1987 that we should hail Ronald Reagan for?

In 1987, Reagan delivered an openly provocative speech to Gorbachev, then President of the Soviet Union that ended with “Tear Down this Wall.” Two years later, the wall came down. Shortly thereafter, Reagan and Gorbachev embarked on a series of summits to limit nuclear weapons and fully end the Cold War. While Gorbachev was by far the more significant of the two men, given the hill he had to climb, Reagan rightfully continues to be celebrated for his part in ending the first Cold War.

Shortly thereafter, in 1994 the Ukraine, along with Belarus and Kazakhstan signed the Budapest Memorandum, with the US, UK and Russia guaranteeing their security in return for their denuclearization. At the time the Ukraine was the third-largest nuclear power in the world behind Russia and the United States. I am betting they regret that decision today.

This brings us to today. Day twenty (20) of the Russian invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin came to power in 2012 his perspective and style are very different from that of his two predecessors, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin. To be clear, Vladimir Putin is ferocious, autocratic, and entirely outside of international norms. What Putin wants is for Russia to be a world power. He started with his invasion of Georgia in 2008, the West barely lifted an eyebrow. Leading to his annexation of Crimea and Donbas in 2014, originally part of Ukraine, where again the West barely moved from their stance of pacification.

Two things that should be noted by anyone interested in following the line of Russian aggression, in both cases:

  • There was a series of cyberattacks. These were preceded by a sophisticated disinformation campaign and an outright attempt to meddle in domestic politics.

Other Baltic nations have seen these same tactics deployed against them. The United States is certainly familiar with these as well. Georgia was only the practice run at what was to become Putin’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedures).

Now to what is truly terrifying.

Putin is looking to annihilate the Ukrainian people.  The Russian army has no limitations on their targets,  residential areas, hospitals, orphanages, aid convoys. The people in cities are in most cases without food, water, heat; it is a human tragedy of catastrophic proportions. Refugees, mostly women and children, old people are fleeing in the millions to neighboring nations.

In the meantime, here at home what are we doing? We are putting the Ukrainian flag on our Facebook profile while we bitch about the price of gas. We are sending up thoughts and prayers for the people of Ukraine while we complain about our supply chain, our inflation; hell, just about every damn thing. We have a ‘united’ Congress to aid Ukraine, while at the same time, leaders of the GOP hold pressers about how the President should have provided aid more rapidly.

Did something just strike a chord? Did they forget it was their own fearless leader who held up aid? Did they forget so soon the first impeachment of Donald J. Trump, which the entire GOP Senate but one who voted against? But I digress.

We here in America are a selfish bunch. Selfish and stupid in fact. We are led by the nose by our immediate needs and our immediate wants. We have zero understanding of how the real world operates. What we are concerned with is only what affects us, right now. It is this mindset that gives us the dysfunctional government we have today. It is this mindset that provides us with the churn we generally see at mid-term elections. Our inability to understand the real economy. Our failure to look beyond the right here and right now, causes us to elect fools and hustlers to lead what was once the greatest nation and is now something far less.

Every single time some talking head in the Pro Putin GOP talks about the price of gas, the Keystone Pipeline, or inflation they are repeating Russian propaganda and propping up Trump talking points. This is critical to understand. Whether or not your Pro-Trump family and friends will ever grasp these very real facts or not, it is important for these facts to be available and that every average American learn them and start repeating them.

  1. The Keystone Pipeline would have no impact on the price of gas. It was intended to bring dirty tar sands oil down from Canada to be refined and then shipped to China. It would not provide a supply to the US. It did not add long-term economic benefits.
  2. The cause of rising gas prices is twofold, speculation and supply. During the pandemic, worldwide refineries slowed down production due to demand. The cost of gas at the pump is a direct reflection of rising demand and limited supply. Russia is now restricted from the supply chain creating even greater limitations. Additionally, since January when Putin first begin threatening Ukraine’s borders, speculation has been driving oil prices up. Barrel of oil goes up, you and I are paying the price at the pump. While the President could ask the US oil companies to release their reserves to the market, he cannot demand they do so except during War, we are not at this time at war.

The other option the President has at this time is to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, this could relieve some but not all pressure. It would also cause disruption to already stressed markets which we should want to avoid. This brings me back to the fact; we are selfish and self-serving in this nation. We decry the price of gas for our big trucks and SUV’s. We complain about the cost of food at the grocery store. Some of us though spend our days listening to the ravings of the pro-Putin arm of the GOP and their apologists on Fox and elsewhere while real human beings in Ukraine are starving, while children are dying of dehydration, while bombs are targeted at residential buildings, children’s hospitals and families are simply trying to escape the carnage. While fools with over inflated egos are beating their chests with their pretend versions of patriotism and stolen elections, real patriots are standing in the streets in every city of Ukraine and saying to the madman Putin, “You shall not pass, you will not have my freedom.”

I pity us when I am not simply in a fury. We have forgotten basic human compassion and dignity. We are so mired in our in-fighting, we have forgotten the standards that once held us together, we have forgotten that working toward a better tomorrow for all of us extends beyond our borders. I weep for Ukraine, but I shed tears for the United States of America as well.

Comments

  1. “Every single time some talking head in the Pro Putin GOP talks about…”. I sure don’t know of any and if they do fall into the category, the person would get the boot in a hot New York second.

  2. A pandemic could not bring us together…perhaps a war will. Nice to see a post from you, Val, but sorry it has to be a subject such as this.

  3. The calamity of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is real, as is the trauma of the humanitarian crisis unfolding before global eyes. But, aside from Russia simply just stopping and exiting Ukraine, what is the proper solution? Meaning, what should the rest of the world do? If the U.S., in particular, launches a military operation, that could incite a nuclear war. Putin is truly unhinged and would have no qualms launching such weapons. I suppose a small team of Navy SEALs could infiltrate Moscow and take out Putin, but that doesn’t seem feasible. What is the best response? I simply don’t know.

    • The real answer? I don’t think any of us know entirely. The next steps? Negotiated peace. Russia withdrawal from Ukraine. I would love to see Ukraine enter both the EU and Nato, but we will see. Russia will be a pariah state, limited economically and otherwise until Putin is out of power, they should be removed from their status on the UN Security Council. I think there is more. There is more, much more the world could do to contain Putin, but the truth is only Russia can contain him.

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