Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back in the USSR?

Growing up, I received advice from my father. You know, the usual what to do if I ever had mechanical problems on the long drive between my college town of Orono and home, how to throw pitches other than the the typical three thrown by most softball pitchers and how to read opposing batters, be respectful of elders, be polite, and other things.

One thing that I remember him talking about has come to the forefront in light of Russia's recent invasion of its neighbor Georgia. When I was in elementary school, the Cold War was still ablaze and my father, while not working directly for the government or a branch of the military, worked for General Dynamics/Electric Boat Division in Groton. Because of his job and his age (my dad is part of the "bomb shelter" generation), he was interested in and kept abreast of the political situations between our country and allies and the Soviets and their allies. During this time, our school routinely had "evacuation drills" in case of nuclear attack. (If you are not familiar with SE Connecticut, please note that within a 20-mile radius, there are two nuclear power plants, the largest submarine builder in the world (Electric Boat), Dow Chemical, Pfizer Pharmaceutical, a Coast Guard Academy, a US Navy submarine school, Sonalysts (they make state-of-the-art sonar equipment and many other things, and a Hess gas/oil storage facility to name a few important things.)

After one of these drills, I asked my dad about these drills. He rattled off the list above, we talked about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and, weirdly, he quoted Nostradamus. This last item perplexed me as my dad, while educated, is a "man's man" and did not talk about things like predictions and "what may be", like horoscopes and fortune telling. He told me that Nostradamus basically predicted that our country's biggest enemy and problem would be "the bear from the north". Naturally, I am paraphrasing for brevity, but you get the picture.

This "prediction" has come up many times over the years and, most recently, came up this week as Russia invade and fired upon the country of Georgia and its people. My father and I watched a news update as we saw Georgia's capital taken hostage and its people and journalists fired upon by the Russian army. The "conflict" is over "finger-pointing" between the countries over who is responsible for the "ethnic cleansing" in South Ossetia. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are taking a hard line with Georgia as Chimpy and Condi try to cater to them and get them to gently back down, without hurting the Russian government's feelings. Despite a cease-fire brokered by the European Union, Russia is still taking a hard line in Georgia at this writing.

Some people are shocked; my dad and I are not. Did everyone, including the White House, miss when Putin's presidential term was over that he basically picked his successor and then named himself prime minister? Ummm.... it has been a while since I have taken a Political Science class, but isn't that what people in a dictatorship do?

Russia still has a great deal of military fire power and, if need be, they could roll over its smaller neighbors and take control of more. Did everyone miss how the Russians are gobbling up rights to certain land areas in the north that are considered to hold untapped oil reserves? Did everyone miss when Medvedev publicly announced that "Georgia won't go unpunished" and called the Georgian government "morons"? I am not saying that I know the whole story, but the way the Russian are going about things smacks of "something ain't right here".

The signs of this Georgian takeover (or something like it) have been there for some time, and Bush has elected to, as usual, go on some "road trip" (in this case the Olympics) instead of doing his job. We need to ask Obama and McCain what they are going to do if elected. The problem in the former Soviet Union is not going away anytime soon and I feel safe saying that Bust won't take care of it either. In any case, Americans should arm themselves with the knowledge that is out there regarding this crisis and keep an eye on it.

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