It’s beginning to feel like deja vu all over again in Eastern Europe.
According to the AP, Poland and the United States have struck a deal to install a U.S. missile defense base about 115 miles from Russia at a former Polish air base.
Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who seems to the naked eye very much like a throw-back to the good, old-fashioned, Khruschev-esque Soviet hardliner, is not happy, and has threatened to attack Poland if the plan moves forward, according to the story.
The missiles are supposedly meant to protect Europe and America from an attack by Iran, but Putin isn’t buying it.
Russian officials say they consider the site a threat and have threatened to attack Poland – possibly even with nuclear weapons, the story says.
At the same time, Georgia, an American ally, severed diplomatic ties with Moscow to protest the presence of Russian troops on its territory. Russia said the move would only make things worse, though they don’t specify exactly how that might be.
With European Union leaders discussing how to deal with an increasingly assertive Russia, Putin angrily warned Europe not to “do America’s bidding,” and said Moscow does not fear Western sanctions, according to the story. Meanwhile, Israel doesn’t plan to wait for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, and is making plans to take care of the problem itself if the rest of the world can’t manage to talk that “Am-a-ditzy-nut- job” character down from the ledge.
It’s the type of saber rattling that made for a very nervous western world when I was a kid during what was lovingly referred to as the Cold War.
Today’s kids have fire drills and schools and cities have disaster plans, but they don’t hold a candle to the “drop drills” we had when I was in elementary school.
“Drop drills” were designed, officials told us, to help school children survive an impending nuclear attack by Russia. It was an exercise initiated, at least at our school, with the teacher suddenly clapping her hands twice, signaling the students to dive under our desks, curl up in a ball and cover our heads with our arms. This last bit was very important, and could, we were told, mean the difference between surviving and not surviving a nuclear attack.
In this way, as long as we kept our backs to the windows, we would, they told us, emerge unscathed from an “A-bomb” attack — something we were made to suspect was likely to happen at any moment.
If “the bomb” should drop on our school during recess, we were to dive for the picnic benches. This, they assured us, would keep us safe.
Come to think of it, they never told us what to do if the Russians dropped “The Bomb” on our house. I think we had the vague idea that they would be aiming specifically for the school. None of us ever thought to ask why.
This was in the early and middle 1960s, when many people seemed convinced there were Communists behind every bush, determined to convert us, by force if necessary, to their system of government. I doubt that was ever strictly true, though they did seem over-the-top in their dealing with their own people, which is always a good measure of a government. When they have to build walls to keep people in, you can safely assume something is wrong with the system.
I don’t know about you, but I had sort of figured the Russians had seen the proverbial light when that wall came down, and stopped worrying about them, but it appears I may have been premature.
The world’s nations seem to have aligned themselves one with the other, in ways similar to the time before the first and second world wars – alliances that make an attack or a perceived attack against one, an act of war against another. So, if the United States puts missiles in Poland, and Russia attacks Poland, the U.S. would be obligated to defend its ally. This could precipitate action by Russia’s allies like, say, Iran, against the U.S. or one of its more convenient allies, such as, oh, say Israel.
You can see where this goes, right?
And the thing is, we’ve already been there and nobody liked the view. I sure hope there’s a way to alter the itinerary this time.
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