The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Friday, October 4, 2013
Foreign Relations/World Affairs ... Politics ...

I became something of a fan of “Voice of Russia” radio after it started broadcasting regularly here in the NY Metro area on an AM channel back in 2011. Well, maybe not a fan, but I did find it somewhat interesting — the notion that Vladamir Putin would spend some of his precious oil and gas money to deliver the world news and his political views directly to my car radio. But for the past few days, everything on 1430 AM has been in Spanish. So where did Voice of Russia radio go?

Looks like Radio Russia has indeed been replaced on the New York airwaves, by something called Radio Cantico Nuevo. VofR no longer lists a New York outpost on its list of broadcast frequencies. Not that I am or ever was much of a “Russophile” (pro-Russian). But their radio station was worth an occasional listen on the drive to and from work. And given all the turmoil going on in the US government right now, I can’t help but wonder if their strongman government philosophies might be the better choice from a list of bad options, at least as far as the Russian homeland goes.

Speaking of Russia and the current disarray of American national leadership, I also can’t help but long for the days of the Cold War. I lived thru the second half of it, and I will admit that it sometimes got rather scary, pondering the real possibility of sudden nuclear vaporization. Those air raid sirens every Saturday at noon were rather creepy.

But still, having a strong ‘common enemy’ seemed to make everyone in powerful leadership roles a bit more reasonable, compared to what you are seeing here in the USA today. You didn’t have government shutdowns and debt default dramas back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The GOP and Dems seemed able to reach compromises, despite bitter differences over stuff like entitlement expansion (Medicare / Medicaid) and civil rights legislation, which irked a lot of white people and in effect turned the southern states over to the GOP.

OK, I will admit that the federal government abused this power, squandering many lives and much treasure in the Vietnam War fiasco. (And not that long ago, GW Bush similarly abused the temporary “united feeling” that followed 9-11, with his ill-advised invasion of Iraqi). But still, the atmosphere of greater accord and citizen acceptance back then also allowed great things to happen, such as the Apollo space program and the Great Society / War on Poverty (the poverty rate in America was around 32% in 1947, 24% in 1958, and reached a low of 12% in 1974; it has ticked back up to about 15% in recent years).

So, do we need a scary enemy to get past all of this Tea Party versus Obamanomics madness? Well, how about China, once feared as Soviet Russia’s “Red Chinese” sidekick. Modern China doesn’t seem much like an enemy, given that they make all the stuff that we love to buy. But we do have our differences with them, and one geo-political analyst thinks they may surprise us one day with a pre-emptive military attack. I hope that’s wrong, but . . .

[Oh, and lets not forget that Al Qaeda and the threat of regressive fanatic terrorism has not died, but is finding new places to grow in Africa, the Middle East, and southern Asia.]

It’s sad that we need war to bring domestic peace, to make Americans act like a united nation (i.e., to put the “united” back in United States). But human nature is still a very flawed and imperfect thing, and the American Constitution remains a big historical experiment . . . It served us well for over two and a quarter centuries, and even survived a bitter and bloody Civil War. But modern times are changing faster than any of the Founding Fathers could have dreamed. The Roman Republic (and then Roman Empire) had considered itself to be “exceptional“; but eventually Rome fell due to unchecked political in-fighting which distracted it from a variety of enemy factions that slowly grew in influence and strengthened themselves along the borders. Long ago in my youth, I feared that the Russians would do us in with their bombers and missiles. But today, I can’t help but wonder . . . are we on our own Roman Road to ruin?

◊   posted by Jim G @ 4:48 pm      

  1. Jim, When it comes to Russia, and in this case the “Voice of Russia” on the radio, it may be simple: Putin sees no need any more to schmooze (so to say) the Americans. (Or maybe I just don’t understand what the “Voice of Russia” was broadcasting.) My hunch would be that with the whole Syria business Putin feels he’s got the upper hand when it comes to America. So why would he find it necessary to allow the “Voice of Russia” to broadcast in America?

    Yet at this point it seems that perhaps Obama has won out in what he wanted with Syria without having to bring the military into the situation.

    I don’t know about “longing for the days of the cold war”, to paraphrase your point. I remember during the Cold War being a high school homeroom teacher, having to study the various types of radiation, figure out where the safest place would be for the students on the floor I was on should there be a particular kind of radiation from an atomic or nuclear bomb. When I think of it now, how silly! As if such a bomb exploded on or around us somewhere, I’d be able to tells what kind of radiation was present. As I think of it, I’m sure it would have been a matter simply of either dying immediately or dying later.

    As to the current business of the gov’t shutdown: I agree with you that it’s something that is just beyond the pale – to have politicians shutting down the gov’t just to get their own particular way, to win a political fight. I’ve seriously tho’t that in the next congressional election I’d give up part of my Democratic vote for the purpose of ousting the Tea Party Republicans on my ballot; I’ve tho’t I could split my ballot and vote against any incumbent Tea Party member. That’s how disgusted I am with them. This whole inability of our gov’t to function properly is reminiscent of France after WW II when it seemed that every 6 months or so France had a new gov’t; it’s also reminiscent of some of the other European countries (Greece, e.g.) who suffered through a massive economic meltdown. While our problems are not the exact same as some of the countries Europe has had, the governmental dysfunction here is sad and equally dysfunctional in its own way.

    On a brighter note: I did hear one pundit say that Obama has a way of appearing to loose in a situation, only to come out on top in the end. So, perhaps this will have a similar happy ending. With luck Obama’s spirit of cooperation will win out over the dysfunction. MCS

    Comment by Mary — October 7, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

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