May 11, 2022

BARBWIRE BOB – A Very Deadly Poker Game

BY BOB SWEENEY

Vladimir Putin is playing a game of poker with Ukraine as he hunts down his former USSR country which he wants to bring back into the Russian domain. He amassed a huge military force on the border and in some military units within 80 km of kyiv.

He’s bluffing right now as he attends the Olympics with his new friends in China. But he won’t be bluffing for long. If Ukraine does not surrender and NATO or the United States does not come to their aid, and they will not, it will be a very rapid occupation by Russian forces. A strange conflict between Russians and Russians.

Ukraine is to Russia what Texas is to the United States. Ukraine is a rich agricultural country that was the breadbasket of the USSR for decades. Ukraine is largely agricultural land and one of the world’s sources of grain, mainly wheat. Russia needs food and its cold climate does not lend itself well to agriculture.

As previously written, I had a unique experience in the USSR. I was selected as one of 13 American journalists for exchange with the Soviets in 1975. The US State Department and the American Council of Young Political Leaders sponsored the exchange trip and my only reference was that I was publisher of a small daily newspaper in Craig, CO and mayor of the town. With the exception of myself, all the other delegates, seven men and six women, worked for major American newspapers, including the publisher of the Chicago Sun-TimesJames Hogue, leading newspaper representatives of the Baltimore Sun, Arizona Republic, Maine Bangor News, Alabama Anniston Star, and some East Coast reporters. We were escorted throughout the trip by two State Department appointees who later in their careers became prominent members of the White House in several administrations. Mort Allen became Richard Nixon’s speechwriter and Spencer Oliver rose in Democratic circles.

I am only telling the above because in 1975 the USSR was a world power and was trying to spread communism all over the world.

President Kennedy blocked the Russian Navy from importing missiles to Cuba in a tense confrontation. As history goes, the communist nation crumbled under President Reagan and the USSR split. The wall has fallen between East Germany and West Germany.

A few simple facts that I learned during this exchange program were that only 13% of the people in the USSR were communists. When the nation split, the communists ended up owning everything; land, oil and business. They were the educated elite and to this day still rule what remains of the old empire with their wealth and power. They want Ukraine back and all the sanctions in the world will not stop the occupation of this country. It is doubtful that the Ukrainian military forces will be able to withstand the size and strength of the Russian army for long.

Russia has Eastern Europe within reach as a major supplier of oil and natural gas. While I was in Moscow, the Germans were building a new gas pipeline there to Europe.

The majority of ordinary Russian citizens were impressed with the Americans but curious and friendly. The USSR media portrayed us as gangsters and Tony Soprano types, just as we portrayed them as killers in James’s Bond films.

Anyone who thinks we should fight a war against the Russians should think again. Hitler sent his best divisions to Russia and suffered its downfall by attacking the Soviet Union. The Russians have as many nuclear missiles as America and any military conflict with them over a civil war between Russia and Ukraine is misguided.

I think Biden understands the dire consequences of this conflict and has done nothing but utter sanctions and sent 3,000 troops to Eastern Europe. We already have 50,000 military personnel in Germany supporting the NATO countries. President Trump, during his tenure, made NATO countries pay their arrears amounting to billions of dollars.

We must keep our powder dry, save the lives of American soldiers, and not be drawn into another civil war military conflict. I don’t want to see our young men and women serving our nation in uniform die to protect a dubious and corrupt Ukrainian government.

This is a very deadly poker game, give us.