On the EDge: Cold War shivers running up and down my spine

Cold War era flags of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America | Stock photo, St. George News

OPINION – Back in the days when there were less than a handful of television networks, a loaf of bread was 22 cents and people actually talked to each other on the telephone, our Ozzie and Harriet existence hung by a thread.

We ate TV dinners in the glint of, by today’s standards, tiny cathode ray tube televisions as we watched Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, deliver the news in his halting, distinctive meter.

Except for the TV dinners, big-screen TVs and the rest, I feel as if I’m in the middle of some gigantic time warp as I watch the news of the day.

Especially when so much of it centers on Russia.

It’s a bad flashback to a time when it seemed that it was only a matter of time until somebody dropped the big one and somebody retaliated leaving nothing but an atomically charred planet.

We talk about longtime feuds between the nations of the Middle East.

Well, when it comes to enmity, the chasm between the United States and Russia runs just as deep, even if it occupies only a fraction of history’s timeline.

The former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was an avowed enemy and had been, even though an uneasy alliance was formed to stave off Germany during the war years, and Nikita Khrushchev was the anti-Christ.

It was so bad people built fallout shelters in their backyards to survive the sure-to-come nuclear holocaust. We had drills in my elementary school requiring that when the alarm went off, we sheltered in place, which simply meant we crawled beneath our desks. I vividly remember asking one of my teachers how a desktop could protect us from an atomic bomb and I wondered why the Soviets would want to kill some little kid living in Overland, Missouri anyway.

While it was difficult for me as a schoolboy to wrap my arms around the greater political nuances of the tenuous world situation, there was a stark, real-world impact.

Our next door neighbors had a son in the U.S. Navy.

One day I went over to play with his young brothers and found them crying in the shadows between our houses.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“Jimmy’s gonna die in the war,” one of the brothers said between his tears.

Jimmy, I later found out from my mom, was aboard a ship that was part of the naval blockade of Cuba, where Khrushchev was sending a cache of nuclear missiles in, perhaps, the most high-stakes poker game ever only to have his bluff called by President John Kennedy.

It was courageous brinkmanship.

I have a friend who grew up in the USSR during the Cold War. He said Russians had a much kinder perception of the United States and Americans than we had about them.

“We loved Americans, loved America,” he said. “We did not consider you our enemy. It was all the government.”

“I was raised to hate you and your country,” I told him. “You guys, we were told, were nothing but dirty, Godless commies whose only intent was to destroy the United States.”

I understand now and am embarrassed that we allowed our own propaganda machine to so overwhelmingly condemn a nation of people, long-suffering under despots.

So, there’s a mixed bag of emotions as I see Vladimir Putin cozy up to the incoming administration. I understand that he does not reflect the will of his people, that he is another, in a long line of strongmen, a bully, a thug, without morals or merit. So while I acknowledge the plight of the Russian people, I have no feel for Putin.

And, that’s why although there aren’t any nukes cocked and locked at this moment – at least none that we are aware of – I have a growing discomfort with what has been going down between the United States and Russia, especially as we are faced with the uncomfortable knowledge of their inexcusable interference with our electoral system.

Those Cold War shivers are running, again, up and down my spine.

Vladimir Putin is in the mold of what we have come to expect from Russian strongmen.

He came through the ranks of the KGB and joined Boris Yeltsin’s administration where his nascent star quickly found its orbit.

Putin may not take off his shoe, pound it on a desk at the United Nations or vow that “we will bury you,” like Khrushchev did during a speech at the Polish embassy in Moscow, but he is of the same ilk.

He’s Voldemort, Darth Vader, The Joker with a KGB spit shine.

And, we should have shivers as the luster fades and we learn more about the scandals – from the murder of Alexander Litvinenko to money laundering in Spain; his role in the oil black market to his connections to organized crime in Russia. Putin is old school.

So, like those of us who lived through the Cold War, I don’t like this newfound friendship with the West, his higher profile, his seeming acceptance.

He’s not a guy I feel comfortable with sitting on an ample nuclear arsenal.

He’s acknowledged as a pretty smart guy, a tough guy, a wily politician, sort of a Dick Cheney with KGB roots and training.

I’ve got a bad feeling about all of this.

I’d like to think I’m wrong in my uneasiness, but I doubt it.

I guess those years of diving under my desk during our nuke drills left a bad impression.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • digger December 20, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Better Times are a comin Ed, Go Take a warm vacation. turn off the Tube and dont read the paper or Internet

  • 42214 December 20, 2016 at 8:35 am

    One word is the reason Russia and the USA is where we are today. OBAMA. He singlehandedly undid everything Reagan accomplished in the 80s. Now we get to watch Trump undo Obama’s feckless foreign policy debacles. Maybe Trump can bring back Hillary and her Russian reset button on the Apprentice and fire her again. I’d also enjoy watching reruns of Obama mocking Romney for his assertion in 2012 that Russia was our biggest foreign threat. These are just 2 examples of Obama’s failed policies. The only bright spot in 8 years of ineptitude was John Kerry flying James Taylor to Paris to sing “You’ve got a friend” after the Bataclan Terrorist attack. That really made me proud to be an American.
    And the elite libtards still can’t believe Trump beat Hillary.

  • partyhatbull December 20, 2016 at 9:45 am

    So this idiot, “so called” writer is scared of what Trump will do? He is okay with Hillary selling the Russions uranium? He is okay with Obama blaming Russia for everything that is going on in our polics lately? I am sure that is great for our relationship. This Ed guy is an idiot.

  • 42214 December 20, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Ed, simple question. What spine?

  • comments December 20, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Ed has an extreme faith in our corporate-controlled mainstream media propaganda. It’s basically a religion. Ed, you should research the dirty little games the US and Israel are playing in Syria. All this tension with Rus originated with them interfering with the US and Israel’s plans to totally destroy the Syrian gov’t and leave the entire territory nothing but a war zone and chaos. Our military hardly made a dent in ISIS in Syria. The the Russians come in with their much smaller and weaker military and obliterate most of ISIS’s military capacity in a matter of months. Why is the Obama crew upset with RUS you wonder–because ISIS is the creation of Obama and his CIA along with Israel. It broke Obama’s little heart to see his ISIS destroyed by those pesky Ruskiys. As to why Obama wanted to destroy syria–same reason he destroyed Libia? who knows?

  • comments December 20, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    And yea, our corrupt intelligence services and corrupt military leaders are still scared of them nukes. That’s why they can do it.

    • comments December 20, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      Outright war with Russia still means the end of world

  • .... December 20, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Well the actual simplicity of the international community in question is of great concern by the inter-related government agencies pertaining to the simple reality that Ed has no spine !

  • r2d2 December 20, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    I remember that time as the good old days. No EPA, no one closing public roads and land. There was God in the schools and no abortion, no gay marriage. The list goes on. Our government changed all that. Those cathode ray tubes are now made in Russia if you need one.

    • ladybugavenger December 20, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      Merry Christmas!

  • Ron December 20, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Ed, you can thank your “heroes”, Obama, Hillary and John Kerry for the awkward feelings you are experiencing about Putin and Russia. Get out of your silver DeLorien and put the bong down, It will be 2017 in a couple of weeks and you’ll see everything is going to be alright, Eddie.
    Actually I am a bit surprised that you are NOT writing about your “girl” Hillary 1.) losing the general election, 2.) losing the recount, and 3.) losing the electoral vote. Hah!! Your gal Hillary a 3 time loser. THREE TIMES!!!!!! A loser.
    To quote your boy Obama….”we won, get over it”.
    Just enjoy the Christmas season Ed, and have a Happy New Year. Everything is going to be alright.
    I’ll bet you have a cozy “safe space”.

  • Ladyk December 21, 2016 at 1:58 am

    Ed, why is it you seem to always come down on either the wrong side of a story or flip flop your story around to make it fit the person you want to blame this week. Grow a spinè man and at least stick to your word. You were wrong about so much over the last 4 years, it’s been longer than that but I am trying to be charitable. And as someone who’s father was in the airplanes that happened to be flying just above the water during the Cuban missile crisis I can tell you first hand how it felt. I don’t need your little made up crying friend story. The part I do believe is that even back then all you could do is think about yourself. Maybe if you and your liberal friends would have had the guts to actually listen to what Mit Romney was saying 4 years ago rather then just deciding it was time for a black man to be in the white house things might have actually turned out a lot different. But nope you just couldn’t put the country above your own prejudice. You would rather have some guy in there who had absolutely no business being there than someone who had actually real experience and knowledge. Oh by the way, marines still use ” knives and swords”, to bad the candidate who WAS already President at the time didn’t know more or even as much as his opponent. Yet we on the other side have stood by the last 8 years. We still stand and put our hand over our heart when the national anthem plays. We didn’t need cookies or safe spaces for us when the man we knew hated this country sat in the oval office.

    It seems to me that your side always has to cheat to try to get on top. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. You don’t care whatbthe truth is, just that pesky ‘ol Russia may have been the ones to tell us the truth. I so wish we could count on you, in your opinion pieces, or your political side to actually tell the truth and behave in an honorable way.

    Go ahead and crawl under your desk and be scared. The real men who have been fighting for this county all along have now stepped up to the plate again. We may not have a perfect leader come January 20th, but at least we will have a leader who loves this country and can see how upside down the last 8 years have made it. I just hope it isn’t to late and that now my kids who are choosing to serve this country, like their father, grandfather and great grandfather did, don’t actually have to die so you can sit under your desk and type another week load of BS.

    • Ladyk December 21, 2016 at 2:05 am

      I should have said the men AND WOMEN who are fighting for this country. Since my daughter will be serving as well.

    • comments December 21, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Oh man, I really don’t know where all this faith comes from for Mr Trump. It’s almost like a some kind of religion or cult. You realize the guy has just been a womanizer and a scoundrel his entire life. Why would he change now? Why wouldn’t he lie non-stop to get votes? It’s what they all do.

      • 42214 December 21, 2016 at 3:42 pm

        First of all, Utah is the home of a cult based on religion so you’re right there. I see Trump as the second coming of FDR, JFK, LBJ, and Bubba Clinton. All well known womanizers and scoundrels. So get off your high horse with your phoney morality. All I care about is results and I’m hopeful Trump will bring the kind of results I want. I could care less who he sleeps with or what he says off the cuff.

        • 42214 December 21, 2016 at 5:32 pm

          Just realized that FDR, JFK, LBJ, and Bubba Clinton were all liberal democrats, so you’re worried Trump will be like them?

      • ladybugavenger December 21, 2016 at 7:35 pm

        I know right….I said the same thing about Obama and he was elected twice! So I said it twice.

    • Ron December 21, 2016 at 11:50 am

      Couldn’t have said it any better LadyK.

  • commonsense December 21, 2016 at 9:38 am

    So Ed, you are comfortable with Fidel Castro who was a brutal assassin and you want the US to cozy up to that regime which offers us nothing but you’re against any alliance with Russia who has everything to offer including holding China at bay. Sounds like you want to extend the Cold War with Russia.
    Now that we have a businessman running the largest business in the world, things will be done quite differently. Negotiation and compromise to protect American interests has been out of play for years. Let’s see what happens.

  • r2d2 December 21, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Does St. George News pay Ed to write this crap? Just wondering.

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