By Chuck Wiser
I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feel
I start today’s writing having discussed my column intentions with the editor. I didn’t want to give up my Thursday, more frivolous at times “Wramblings”, but wanted to discuss something serious and to make a suggestion and a plea to readers of the “Sun”.
I do not profess to be a world “historian” nor being all that knowledgeable regarding US-Russia history or politics, nor even what is going on in the world today. I do however feel an obligation to educate myself a little so as to get some perspective as to where we stand and where might we be headed. I have seen the comments that many make regarding the News outlets and the mistrust of the Opinion Editorial (Op Ed) programs such as CNN and MSNBC, and to a degree share some of those feelings. I will however, at the end of my shallow research summary of how we got to our current events, reach out with a plea and an admonishment.
The historically specific dates and events that I discuss herein are more conversational or anecdotal for context and so may be a little less formal and not be precise. The events and their causes are not black and white nor numbered as the pages of a book so history will not be bent by my re-telling.
My formal History lessons ended in Friendship Central School having been in the hands of Mr. Del Mancuso over my high school four years, thus, they ended in 1963. By that time, we had already been through the second of the World Wars, the Korean War, and on a path toward what was deemed the Vietnam Conflict, never having formally been declared as a war.
In my era, World War II ended in 1945, and ironically, with us allies with Russia, a nemesis to develop shortly thereafter and which remains so to this day, and I mean literally, “this” day. Russia had allied with us and our closer European allies to defeat Japan.
At the end of World War II, Korea which was part of Japan was “administratively partitioned” off into two parts. That portion north of the 38th parallel was put under the auspices of Russia and eventually became known as The Democratic Peoples Public of Korea. The area south of the 38th Parallel became the ward of The United States and became the First Republic of Korea. The initial intention of the United Nations was that the two regions would eventually rejoin as a single country. But, given the ideological differences between the Communist controlled North and the more democratically controlled South. the war broke out before unity could be reached and the invasion of South Korea started that war.
The “Cold War”, noted as having begun almost immediately after World War II in 1946 and peaking in 1953, coincides with the Korean War which I consider the “bell ringer” of the extension, and expansion of the Cold War. I recall accompanying my Grandparents in the early 50’s, as they participated in a volunteer “Aircraft Lookout” watch, on a hill side near Rushford, NY. The Korean War began formally in June of 1950 and ended with an “Armistice” in 1953.
The Cold War carried on with various flare ups, and challenges until being formally ended in 1991 at what was known as the Malta Summit, between US President George H.W. Bush and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was dissolved. Russia was the majority component of the Soviet Union. Ukraine, along with the four Baltic States of Crimea, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, along with a number of countries, were broken free. As happened with the Korea’s, so too did it happen to Russia and the Baltic States and Ukraine. One, Russia, continued on with Communistic like dictatorship rule and the others eventually morphed into democratic like governance with rights and freedoms such as the Western Allies share. Crimea has already been annexed by Russia. The remaining three are members of Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), but, feel particularly threatened by Russia’s aggression. Our existence as a member of NATO was recently in jeopardy, but our participation prevailed, much to our, and the world’s relief.
One of the most significant events included in the “Cold War” that is likely most remembered by those of reader age to this piece, is the Vietnam Conflict/War. Many consider this the forgotten war as those returning from the conflict were not honored with a parade or even recognition. I do not go into any more detail on that sad event as the focus herein is to the history and development of our status and relationship with Russia.
Over the many years of the “Cold War” some of the more notable encounters or threats thereof happened. Listed below are only a few of the most significant ones:
• Berlin Airlift • U2 Spy Incident • Cuban Missile Crisis • Non-Proliferation Treaty
• Tiananmen Square • Soviet Afghan War • Korean War • Suez Crisis • Bay of Pigs
• Perestroika and Glasnost • Berlin Wall Takedown • Cuban Revolution • Vietnam Conflict
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union Russia had to give up several territories, not of its choosing. Since 1991 relations have had highs and lows but an underlying motivation of the recent leadership in Russia has been to reconstruct the old “Soviet Union” by regaining some previously held territories. It has happened to Crimea. Others are in jeopardy and will be crucial to keep an eye on for future challenges.
Over a series of leadership changes and conflicts within Russia, Vladimir Putin, Once of the KGB, both as Prime Minister and President, has pretty much been in control since 1999. His regime has been rift by corruption, authoritarian leadership and human rights violations. He has been wooed by more than one previous administration, in an effort, to establish or maintain world peace. It does not seem to be working as his motivation is to re-build Russia’s former world standing and apparently knows no limit as to what he will do. He has no compunction against exterminating foes, nor hesitation to kill innocent civilians. Ukraine has been invaded in a takeover attempt. It is yet clear as to how successful that attempt will be.
We are on the precipice of being drawn further into these activities with only a few blatant, war like, atrocities that remain. Especially troubling is the threat of aggression anticipated toward our NATO allies. That could push us over the cliff.
These past few comments are a combination of history and my impressions. The whole purpose of this is not to lecture, preach or give a history lesson, but rather to whet your appetite, as untasteful as it may seem, to encourage you to become, up to date, with what is going on in the world today, and can jeopardize our peaceful existence. We have our internal problems, but they can be solved with unity.
Broadcast news sources, by their nature, are trying to draw audiences. I do not believe that they are intentionally spreading false or misleading information but may be sensationalizing it just like the “Yellow Press” did/does, doing so as to get or keep your attention. After all their jobs rely on sustained watching and following to appease or satiate the advertisers that pay for their existence.
For the purposes of educating yourself I feel that the legitimate News sources, especially in printed form, like the Associated Press, have knowledgeable and honorable reporters that are able to explain the details and substance of their research and reporting. If you take the time to read various sources, in depth, away from your tiny phone screen while doing three other things at once, you will have a better understanding of what is going on and, to be prepared, at least mentally, for what is yet to come. Read and compare. Take the time to do it. It would do you well to follow that same approach as you evaluate and judge past, current and future political representatives.