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WORLD FOCUS: How U.S. democracy works, part 2

November 17, 2016
By FRANK SHATZ , Lake Placid News

In last week's column I quoted from the recent article by former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Robert E. Hunter, in which he was highly critical of the policies pursued by Washington since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the West's total victory in the Cold War.

Hunter noted that President George H.W. Bush tried to advance a vision of "Europe whole and free and at peace," and Russia embraced much of what the West proposed to implement that vision. But the West, and the United States in particular, stopped caring whether Russia could be included in Europe as a respected and serious member.

"As a result," Hunter wrote, "the United States and Russia are now at daggers drawn over Syria. ... Ominously, there has been talk in both the United States and Russia about a new Cold War. Senior U. S. military leaders saying that Russia poses an "existential threat" to the United States. A judgment, that is both nonsense and potentially dangerous."

To get an expert's take on Ambassador Hunter's stance, I turned to Col. Boyd Nix, USAF (Ret.) of Williamsburg. He served as Director of Armaments Cooperation and National Armaments Director Representative at U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium. He worked closely with Hunter at NATO and was his escort officer to the European Air Shows.

Nix currently serves as President of the Virginia Peninsula Chapter of the Military Officer Association of America, an organization with about 350 member local residents.

"First, let me say how much I respected Amb. Hunter and enjoyed working with him at NATO," Col. Nix said in an interview with the Lake Placid News. "Although my political party preference was opposite of his, it didn't matter because I was an active duty military officer, I did my duty and politics never affected my judgment."

Nix emphasized that although he held Diplomatic status while assigned to NATO, his comments on Hunter's article, are from a former military officer's viewpoint and are his personal opinions not of the organization he lead.

He noted that the recent collapse of the Syrian Case Fire Agreement was just another in a long list of failures in the U.S. and Russian negotiating process.

"Apparently, this administration has never believed in Ronald Reagan's 'Trust but Verify' policy and replaced it with an 'Art of Diplomacy' variant," he said. "In 2012, Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham spent a great deal of time in Syria observing the catastrophe taking place and searching for solutions. When they returned home, they attempted to convince the administration to arm the rebels. Of course this didn't happen even when the president drew his 'Red Line in the Sand,' and when it was crossed, he did nothing."

Analyzing Russia's actions, Nix, doesn't mince his words.

"Personally, I have never trusted the Russians, except for a brief period during the Reagan-Gorbachev era," he said. "My mistrust was formed by memories in the early '50s taking shelter under my desk during drills in grade school, flying on combat missions during the Vietnam War, assignment as Ground and Airborne Minuteman Missile Crew Commander in SAC, over eight years in Germany and exposure to Russian methods at NATO Headquarters, but overall, it is because of their actions during the Cold War and to date."

Nix pointed out that our failure to prevent Crimea's incorporation into Russia and adequately support Ukraine, emboldened President Putin to push for the re-establishment of Russia as a "Global Power.""As a retired military officer, I cannot understand why this administration's answer to every problem in Europe and the Middle East is not just diplomacy first but entirely. Whether it is nuclear capability in Iran, civil war in Syria, ISIS, or mass immigration in Europe and America or the release of U.S. hostages, we will talk infinitum but in the end, we give in to most our opponents desires," he said.

Nix seems to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been emboldened by the drawdown of U.S. military forces.

"This has put us in a weaker military position and Putin only respect strength not weakness," he said. "And he will only come to the table with willingness to make concessions when he is dealing with a country that possesses equal or greater military and economic power than his own."

Frank Shatz's column was reprinted with permission from the Virginia Gazette. Shatz is a seasonal Lake Placid resident. He is the author of "Reports from a Distant Place," a compilation of his selected columns.

 
 

 

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