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Columnist: When did Russia cease to be enemy?

Why was there an immediate reaction of shock and disbelief from Republicans, Democrats and Independents to President Trump’s news conference with Vladimir Putin?

To answer that is to remember another time in this country. It was the time of my childhood and I have vivid memories about Russia. Fear is what I recall most clearly.

What we heard, what we knew, was that Russia’s leaders wanted to destroy us. Russians were different from us and our way of life was foreign to the way they lived.

Kids growing up in that time felt there was a strong possibility an atomic bomb might land on our country. We knew if that happened, Russia was responsible.

Teachers told us what to do if an attack was imminent during school hours. We hid under our desks, like that was some how going protect us from a nuclear holocaust.

At home, we talked about the safest place to holdup after a bomb fell. Hunkering down in the hall in the center of the house was the plan. Mother had a box filled with emergency supplies to sustain us for a few weeks until, supposedly, the radiation cleared enough for humans to venture back outside.

Strange now to imagine we believed radiation would clear and we’d all survive an atomic attack. Thankfully, we never had to find out if that was true — but we came close. Still, seared into our brains was that fear of living through bombs falling from the sky.

This was our reality for a while. And, we knew without a doubt that Russia was not our friend.

Not much happened in the following years to make us think Russia turned a page and became the good guy who is sorry and wants to play nice. We heard reports of horrors perpetrated by their leaders. To list all those horrors or to argue over whether they were as horrible as reported is a waste of energy. Those of us who lived through the Cold War years still understand how different Russia and America are in terms of values and way of life.

That’s why seeing an American president standing on a world stage criticizing America and praising Russia’s leader sent shock waves through so many people. It was unimaginable and incomprehensible.

For those who didn’t live through that time of fear and uncertainty when Russia and America seemed to play chicken with our lives, consider this news story.

Russia recently released a video showing a high-speed nuclear-powered torpedo called Poseidon described as, “one of its most inhumane and fearsome nuclear weapons ever created — and it’s purpose-built to avoid US defenses.”

According to news stories, the mission for the torpedo is “Going in and blowing up a harbor with the purpose of blanketing a coastal area with radiation to make it uninhabitable.” This, according to Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, is a “blatant violation on the international laws of war, which requires them to avoid collateral damage.”

The Russian video demonstrates another use for the torpedo: targeting U.S. aircraft carriers and their strike groups. The stories say that as it stands, the U.S. has no way to defend against this weapon.

That Russia decided to show off its nuclear toy just a few days after the Helsinki summit and on the heels of Trump unbelievably issuing an invitation to President Putin to visit Washington, is at least troubling. I think it demonstrates what a lot of us know; Russia has not turned over a new leaf. It is not a country that now wishes us well (and I’m not even going to get into the whole election meddling thing).

So, from those who lived through and remember when Republicans, Democrats, Independents and pretty much all the world knew Russia’s goal was to destroy our country — Mr. Trump when you take the side of our enemies you are not acting like an American, much less its credible leader.

 

 

Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.