Some old-timers will remember the quotation, “We will bury you,” spoken by Nikita Khrushchev in a speech delivered in Poland in November 1956. He went on to say, “We can say with assurance that your grandchildren will live under Socialism.” As American writer, Mark Twain, said to a reporter in response to a report Twain had died, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” The United States of America can say the same.
Considering the recent meeting of President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Donald Trump of the U.S., it is good to point out there was a time when we had a really good reason to fear the Soviet Union. Alas, for them, that time has passed. Their threat to us on the world stage is largely in our minds. The Soviet Union that we feared has been gone since the Reagan years, more than 30 years ago. The old Soviet Union broke apart and left Russia standing alone. Yes, they have atomic capacity. However, the threat that was so real in the 1980s just isn’t the same today.
Can I justify the statement of Russia not being a threat to the U.S.? I can. Consider the following.
I was reminded of the reality of war with a speech by Rhet Butler, famous blockade runner of the South, in the academy award winning film, “Gone with the Wind.” He said, “Wars are won not with bravery or words. Wars are won with cannons and ships, cannons that can deliver explosives great distances and ships that can blockade ports. There isn’t a ship building or cannon factory in the entire south. The north is full of them.”
Using that borrowed quotation as a base, let’s take a look at the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) comparison between the U.S. and Russia. In short, let’s compare the capacity for making war between the two countries.
Today, the U.S. still ranks first in the world in GDP, followed by the European Common Market and China. No, Russia doesn’t rank fourth. Russia, is no. 12, not even in the top 10. Even Italy has a greater GDP than Russia. Lest you think the numbers are close, the U.S. has more than 14 times the GDP capacity of Russia. If we add the capacity of NATO to that of the U.S. we have 27 times the economic capacity of Russia.
Despite all the rhetoric and the current state of our national psyche, Russia doesn’t want a war with us. So, what do they want? President Putin is intent on recouping the economic power of the old Soviet Union. That is what the incursion into Crimea four years ago was all about. He needed to insure that Russia had a port on the Black Sea that would give him easy access to the Mediterranean and the many potential trading partners in Southern Europe, Africa, and the mid-east. Russia’s involvement in the four-year war in Syria is about access to cheap oil to fuel his ships and factories.
What else does Russia want? They want the same thing that North Korea wants. They want status in the court of world opinion.
One could say with assurance that North Korea’s venture into developing an atomic capacity and the intercontinental capability to deliver it to the U.S. was not about wanting a war with the U.S. Instead, it was about that same international spotlight Putin seeks. Proof? North Korea’s GDP ranks in the second hundred, less than $28 billion, of all the countries of the world. They don’t want war with the U.S. They want the world to acknowledge their existence.
So, what did the recent meetings do for North Korea and Russia? It accomplished exactly what their leaders wanted it to. What did it do for the U.S.? I’ll leave that judgement to history.
My opinion? Not much.
— You can reach Dr. Mark L. Hopkins at email@example.com. Books by Hopkins, “Journey to Gettysburg, The Wounds of War, The World as it was When Jesus Came,” and “Facts & Opinions on the Issues of our Time,” can be acquired at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and through the E-mail above.