International, local concerns converge

International, national and local concerns have been converging lately.

Russia is acting like the old USSR in threatening to cut off natural gas to Ukraine and maybe all of Europe, while North Dakota is flaring away a third of the natural gas in the Bakken.

And Russia has many of its nuclear missiles aimed at the Bakken because of our missiles there aimed at Russia.

Writer Ian Frazier, who spoke at Minot State University last year, has visited Siberia and seen their missile sites aimed at our sites in North Dakota. During his time in Minot he visited the Bakken and saw our missile sites aimed at their sites. Seeing both sides of the MAD (mutually assured destruction) nuclear stand-off was “chilling.”

Yet years after the Cold War, it is still a reality. And so any get tough talk about Russia and Putin should keep this in mind. We’d be among the first to go if there is any nuke-play, the modern day equivalent of old western gunplay.

And the Air Force has been careless in maintaining and attending to our missiles, with drug use on duty and cheating on safety procedures. True, this has been predominantly in Montana and Wyoming, but this is hardly reassuring.

As of this writing, common sense seems to be prevailing regarding Putin and Russia, but some national media pundits are urging a war-like attitude and approach. In the March 8 Minot Daily News, conservative columnist Patrick Buchanan cautioned against such over-reacting, reminding us of “how Cold War presidents dealt with far graver clashes with Moscow.”

They did not intervene militarily, not Eisenhower in Hungary in 1956 when Red Army tanks crushed the freedom fighters and killed 50,000 Hungarians, not JFK when the Berlin Wall was built, not LBJ when Warsaw Pact troops crushed the 1968 Prague Spring, not Reagan when Poland’s Solidarity movement was smashed.

Buchanan’s summary: “These presidents saw no vital U.S. interest imperiled in these Soviet actions, however brutal. They sensed that time was on our side in the Cold War. And history has proven them right.”

They also undoubtedly factored in the risk of all-out nuclear war that could have obliterated most of civilization, a risk that has not gone away with the Cold War.

Yet certain fellow pundits, with whom Buchanan disagrees on this, appear itching for a war, like kids on the school ground itching for a fight. They almost seem to be pulling for Putin. Or at least they are giving him plenty of sound bites and videos he can use to make his case that the American people are not with their president on this issue.

This seeming wish to see Obama fail no matter what the consequences is, at the least, unhelpful. It plays into Putin’s hand. It aids and abets his actions instead of presenting a united front against them.

As for those who ask what Reagan would do, we saw what he didn’t do when Poland’s Solidarity movement was crushed. And there was the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing when 241 U.S. marines were killed. His response: to withdraw our troops from the area and to comment, with honesty and wisdom, how do we fight an enemy willing to blow themselves up to blow us up?

Although this question does not directly apply to the Russian situation, it certainly applies to situations like the Iraq war, during which Saddam Hussein challenged George W. Bush to a duel. And I don’t recall media belittling of George W. for not doing the honorable Texan thing and accepting the challenge.

Yet there has been considerable media belittling of our president for acting like a thoughtful adult in a difficult situation. This only makes the situation more difficult and dangerous by emboldening and encouraging Russia.

(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)