Tag Archives: Russian invasion of the Ukraine

The demise of the useful idiots

Sometime after World War II, when I was coming of political age (about 11) my mother told me that there are people in the family who believe that Finland attacked Russia.  She never would tell me who, but she did tell me who on my father’s side called her mother ‘a lousy capitalist’.  This when she was a new widow raising a 15 year old and running a dry goods store in a small New Jersey town.

Lenin is said to have called such people ‘useful idiots’ but the evidence that he did is actually rather slim.

My first experience with them was at Harvard in ’60 – 62.  The best place to meet women was the International house. It had a piano, and a Polish guy who played Chopin better than I did. It had a ping pong table, and another Polish guy who beat me regularly. The zeitgeist at Harvard back then, was that America was rather crude (the Ugly American was quite popular), boorish and unappreciative of the arts, culture etc. etc.

One woman I met was going on and on about this, particularly the condition of the artist in America, and how much better things were in Europe. I brought up Solzhenitzen, and the imprisonment of dissidents over there. Without missing a beat, she replied that this just showed how important the Russian government thought writers and artists were.

In 1983 the left in Europe had mobilized against the placement of Pershing missiles in Europe by president Reagan, already known there as a crude and witless former actor, but, unfortunately possessed of nuclear weapons. Tens of thousands marched. He had even called the Soviet Union an Evil Empire that year. Leftists the world over were outraged. How unsophisticated to even admit the possibility of evil. Articles such as “Reagan’s image in Europe does not help Allies in deploying American missiles” appeared in the liberal press.  Here’s a sample — https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1983/11/27/fracturing-nato-to-save-it-us-missiles-drive-reagan-europe-apart/3bfd7880-64da-4201-be25-65bbc44536c5/

Putin with his Ukraine invasion has managed to eliminate most Russian apologists, useful idiots and fellow travelers, something I would have thought impossible.

Closing the circle -https://www.ft.com/content/83deaf3e-6db9-43dd-a2dc-5e9493265c2d — both Finland and Sweden are sending weapons to the Ukraine, and polls indicate that majority of citizens in both countries favor joining NATO.

On a more personal note, the talk of war and possible US involvement in the fighting has brought back unwanted memories of the horribly wounded and disabled soldiers, that somehow survived and made it to Fitzsimons Army Hospital where I helped take care of them ’68 – ’70.  I was never in combat but I can see how today’s news could trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in those who were.

A state surrounded by hostile powers

Russia is a state surrounded by hostile Communist Powers said my preceptor Cyril Black in a Russian history course I took in the late 50’s (https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/november-1989/in-memoriam-cyril-e-black). I was fortunate enough to get Professor Black as my Preceptor (https://admission.princeton.edu/academics/precept-system).

Black also said the main problem for European security was the security of Russia.  It certainly didn’t seem that way at the time.  Russia crushed the Hungarian revolution just before I arrived as a freshman in 1956.  Totally awed by the brainpower of my classmates, I was particularly impressed by a guy who knew 16 or so languages and who learned Hungarian in a few weeks and went up to Camp Kilmer (where Hungarian refugees were being housed) to act as a translator.

Which brings me to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.  Some glibly say that the US should send troops there.  Now that there isn’t a draft, few have any idea what war is like.  Not so when I was taking care of horribly maimed soldiers as an Air Force doctor from ’68 – ’70 during the Vietnam war.   While the Ukraine is undergoing terrible suffering, this is a European problem not ours.  They have everything they need to solve it.

Consider the following:

Population of Russia — 144 Million  Population of the European Union 447 Million

GDP of Russia 1.4 Trillion   GDP of the European Union 17.1 Trillion

Only 8/28 members of NATO had met their defense commitments before Trump told them that we would only defend those who had done so.  Things then improved.

Granted that many of the EU countries are small and Russia has the border states terrified (with good reason).   The invasion is a wakeup call for them, and it’s time for them to listen to one of geniuses present at the founding of the USA —

Benjamin Franklin’s comment at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

The worst thing we could do is sent our soldiers over there to win the fight for them.  Just look at the population and GDP numbers.

If you feel strongly about using US troops for this, ask yourself — would you send your son (or daughter) over there to fight and die for the Ukraine?