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The lunacy now occurring in eastern Europe would not have happened if the U.S. government, that purportedly represents us, and its NATO surrogate, had not broken its word with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, not to move military armaments eastward after the unification of Germany in 1990. The 14 countries that were once part of the Soviet Union eventually were provided enticements to join the alliance, so international weapons companies and several American ones gladly armed these countries to effectively corral Russian influence in its past Soviet sovereign territories.

In 1961, as part of Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell presidential speech, he mentioned the “industrial-military complex.” He was not permitted to include the term “congressional.” For 61 years now, this trilateral power has consolidated its influence and power to fund the defense industry. Over this time period we Americans have so dearly paid the price for this complex. Of course, there’s the gigantic monetary cost, but then there’s the death and dismemberment of hundreds of thousands of our own young men and women and caring for their expensive unending medical treatments. The invisible cost is always borne by ordinary people and veterans. The pain and suffering from any war reverberate outward, from the devastated families who endure their incalculable loss, into the greater society. Meaning that everyone in any society loses. The millions of Koreans (Truman and Eisenhower’s war), Vietnamese, Iraqis and Afghanis, etc., whose lives were never lived, were victims of our western ideas of freedom and democracy. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time, like the Ukrainians now.

In 1945, Harry Truman chose the military advice to drop atom bombs on two Japanese cities at a time when, it had been well established that the war was winding down and such a heinous slaughter wasn’t necessary. This historical decision of President Roosevelt’s replacement to drop atomic bombs will long be debated. Robert J. Oppenheimer who ran the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos during WWII that produced the atomic bombs, visited the President in the Oval office. He pleaded with Mr. Truman not to use nukes again. After he left, Truman turned to his staff and said, “Don’t let that crybaby back in this office.” Just as the Germans and “Japs” medically experimented on prisoners, in a different abstract nuclear scientific way, our government used this opportunity to end WWII with a brilliant spin to save hundreds of thousands of American soldiers without an invasion of Japan (certainly debatable), to study the effects of a nuclear explosion’s impact and its radiation, and to warn Russians of what could happen to them.

The Russians were overcome by the Golden Horde Mongols a long time ago and Napoleon and Hitler tried again in the 19th and 20th Centuries. The Russians won WW II with the blood of their people and American firepower. They lost 20-30 million people from a population of 170 million. Imagine that if you can. Those numbers are just mind boggling. By comparison, we lost 400,000 men and women from a 1940 population of 130 million. Vermont has a population of approximately 625,000 people. That would be the near equivalent of Burlington and Colchester disappearing from the map. Twenty million is more than the population of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Denver and Atlanta combined.

The point of mentioning this history is that when the current muscle-bound nuclear badger is cornered, watch out. During President Clinton’s term, George Kennan, elder statesman on Russian affairs, considered the military movements eastward the most dangerous post-WWII decision America had made, saying, “It shows so little understanding of Russian and Soviet history.” Henry Kissinger, Realpolitik personified, has spoken with Putin many times and concluded that a Ukrainian entrance into NATO and the EU would have ignored Russia’s vital interests and that Ukraine is an essential buffer zone for its security. In light of 30 years of antagonistic encroachment, the Russian badger has the kind of claws that only the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have experienced. That was then. Now is categorically and exponentially distinct from 1945 because the nukes have been continually upgraded for 75 years and their destructive power is way beyond that time.

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Mainly though, our long long history of enslavements of all kinds (chattel slavery, indentured servitude, company stores, health care tied to employers), breaking Indian treaties, native people exterminations, 20th Century pre- and post- WWI and WWII wars, and those effective deadly U.S. sanctions around the world are the indices of our past, present and future behaviors. Remarkably, the notion of our still being the exceptional light on the hill is so deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of those people who own this country and their representatives in DC who legislate their choices, it is hard to ignore their sanguinary mendacity to bully a fight anywhere, regardless of the consequences.

The lunacy that puts an inordinate quantity of our annual budget toward military preparedness versus a tiny fraction for education, jeopardizes everyone world-wide. The cornered badger has nothing to lose when its life is threatened. Should the trillions and trillions of Soviet/Russian rubles and American dollars spent during the Cold War, and since then, on nuclear arsenals ever be used for any justified reason, it’s just a “forgetaboutit” for humanity, because nothin’ grows when the sun don’t shine. When Disneyland resembles Chernobyl, the fun in the sun is done and the paradise we are here to revere and caretake will just be a phantasmagorical dream for radiated survivors.

The following Google quote describes the dilemma President Eisenhower foreshadowed. “How much power did Emperor Hirohito have? He had no real power ... He was a peace-loving figure who was consistently manipulated by his hawkish military advisors/servants during the war; and since he was powerless, he was unable to prevent the military from making war.” Before surrender, how much power did Hirohito have when he was considered a God by his Japanese subjects will forever be argued. Now, 61 long years after Ike’s prophetic words in 1961, we Americans need to come to grips with his farewell address. In a nuclear environment, do we still want to fund a ridiculously expensive “military-industrial complex,” a self-propitiating war making apparatus that takes for granted the imprimatur of our consent and hubristically provokes a nuclear heavyweight? With some nuke temperatures reaching only about a 100,000,000 degrees centigrade, it seems time that the sane wails of crybabies like J. Robert Oppenheimer deserve our avid attention.

May you take the time to caress your beloved with the sweetest tenderness while this current dream/nightmare presides.

Nick Santoro is from Rutland. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of Vermont News & Media.