by Mike Pyatt
“From Russia With Love,“ was a 1963, James Bond movie. Don’t expect any. Strained Russia and U.S. relations are nothing new. Dominating the media is President-elect Trump’s manufactured link with Vladimir Putin, as “Putin’s Puppet.” This conflagration of Russian cyber hacks purportedly threaten our national security. History ruminates the October 18, 1956, speech at the Polish Embassy, in Moscow, by Nikita Krushchev, the Associated Press translated his speech, “We will bury you,” breathing threats during the Cold War, directed at the West in general, and the U.S. specifically. Years later, some insist it was a mistranslation. Most don’t. That threat prompted a generation of Americans to practice drills of “duck and cover” in school rooms across the nation, and families constructing “bomb shelters.” As if either would have “saved our bacon.”
The stakes were extremely high during what someone termed, “Cold War brinksmanship.” We know now that six years after Krushchev’s threat, President Kennedy, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, threatened to “push the button” if the Soviets refused to remove their missiles. In 1960, Eisenhower and Krushchev exchanged verbal barbs over the growing threat in Cuba. President Ronald Reagan’s historic speech on June 12, 1987, in West Berlin, near the Berlin Wall, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Reagan’s appeal pivoted on Gorbachev’s 1986, expressed interest to increase freedom in the Eastern Bloc through “perestroika and glasnost.” Our media gave it little fanfare. The Soviet press agency, Tass, characterized Reagan’s comment as a “provocative, war mongering speech.” Gorbachev was more of a “constitutional dictator” on paper. His stock and trade was as a “traveling minstrel,” convincing foreigners that the USSR was no longer a threat. The Russian parliament passed radical reforms to position itself as a “market economy.” He rejected Andropov’s iron-fisted attempts at marshalling corruption.
During the 2016 Primary, Donald Trump commented on Putin’s strong leadership, contrasted to President Obama’s, “I told Putin to cut it out,” limp-wrist rhetoric. Perhaps Trump read then Prime Minister Putin’s 1999, New York Times editorial piece, defending his nation’s intervention to protect the citizens of Chechnya, writing, “Sadly, decisive armed intervention was the only way to prevent further casualties both within and far outside of the borders of Chechnya, by so many people enslaved by terrorists.” The former KGB enforcer understands peace comes through strength rather than rhetoric. Our 45th President understands.
That Moscow inflicted mischief on our sovereignty has drawn mixed responses. President-elect Trump denies the intelligence. Some think the EPA poses a greater overall internal threat. Republican John McCain, and Democrat Chuck Schumer maintain their political luster by calling for a unmerited “select committee” investigation. President Obama remarked nothing goes on in Russia without Putin’s approval. Last week the CIA and the FBI were at odds over its’ certainty of Moscow’s role. President-elect Trump sarcastically remarked this was the same CIA that confirmed “WMD,” in Iraq, in 2002.
Officially the KGB was abolished in 1991, but, according to Paul Gregory‘s, September 5, 2011 article, from the Library of Economics and Liberty, after more than a decade of rule by Vladimir Putin, Russia remains a “KGB” style state.” At the heart of Gregory’s thesis is that the KGB will not tolerate political opposition. Vladimir himself preached, “Once KGB, always KGB.” State and Kremlin-friendly oligarchs own and control TV and most media content. Some attempted to paint Putin as an “outsider in the KGB,” that he has learned from the mistake of others, with a more transparent Russia. Many astute scholars and his detractors are skeptical of this image, given his self-avowed nostalgia for “Mother Russia.” At the end of the Yeltsin era, most of the energy, transportation, minerals, media and banking were in the hands of private oligarchs. Gregory warns that the business practices of Putin’s KGB state reveal the narrow gap between legitimate government action and outright “gangsterism.”
Bush 43’, in 2001, mystically, at the Slovenian Conference in Bratislavia, gazed into Putin’s eyes and “saw his soul.” Some suggested Bush should’ve looked closer. Conversely, in 2007, Senator McCain jested, “When I looked into his eyes, I saw three letters: KGB.” For the better part of his adult life, Putin, the never self-deprecating evangelist of Mother Russia, has preached the “gospel of Marx,” in one form or another. Considering both Putin’s political background, and his personal heritage, one must examine closer what he believes, not discounting that he’s the product of a godless ideology, from which he has never recanted. By his own account, he was baptized as a baby in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, authorized by his mother, in secrecy from his atheist father.
When asked in a Times Magazine interview, if he believed in God, he replied, “There are things I believe, which should not in my position, be shared with the public at large for everybody’s consumption because that would look like self-advertising or political striptease.” Not exactly Pauline apologetics. It’s safe to predict most followers of biblical Christianity, wouldn’t soon attend “Reverend Putin’s church.” When they pass the offering plate, one may be required to give much more than money.
Will Secretary of State-elect, Exxon oil magnate Rex Tillerson, with his longstanding friendship with Putin thaw Russian-U.S. relations? Will a Trump Presidency significantly alter those dynamics? Putin’s feigned admiration for a President Trump must be viewed through the prism of his chronicled denigration of the “uniqueness of our Founding nation.” Vladimir can deny it. Over the years, particularly under Stalin’s reign, those who expressed admiration of this unique liberty, found in the U.S., were left to muse on it for years, in a remote, inhumane gulag-like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the tireless critic of Communist totalitarianism.
According to Psalm 33:12, God grants “favored nation status.” Moreover, that nation positions itself to receive all His beneficence. It’s not our capitalist DNA that‘ll, “Make America great again.” Absent His touch, a nation will spiral into decline. Thus far, God has favored our undertakings. Is that in peril? What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org