• When the leader of our nation announced in the recent past that he was “reducing” the defensive strength of the U.S. military in order to provide more funds “for the needy” I remarked to my b.w., “We can now expect the Russians to do some saber rattling in their dealings with us, now that they see us as a weakening foe.” Putin has validated my words by his recent takeover actions in Crimea. Is Ukraine next? Who knows how much further Putin will go if we don’t assume some kind of defensive posture that makes him beware of challenging Uncle Sam.
In 1938, after Britain’s Neville Chamberlin returned from a Munich visit with Herr Hitler saying he had won “peace in our time!” he was guilelessly fooling himself and misleading those who believed in him. By June 1940, Hitler’s Nazi Army, given an added three years by Chamberlin to add to its muscle, invaded Poland without warning. Neville Chamberlin had boxed himself in, and he could do nothing then but have England declare war on Germany. In June 1940 the Germans conquered France and the British Army escaped only by the miracle of Dunkirk. Hitler, who had always had a secret admiration for the British, benignly allowed the British to evacuate their forces safely back across the English Channel.
On Dec. 7, 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and a few days later Germany declared war against the U.S., Hitler’s fate was sealed. That was, in my eyes, the moment that Hitler’s arrogant judgment lost him WWII.
Today’s recent sequence of international events is not salutary — we have a president who speaks from weakness that could well invite aggression from several already dangerous sources: Will the North Koreans now be encouraged to start more trouble in their backyard, which includes South Korea?
After Putin’s success, will Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad— having gotten rid of only 2 percent of his chemical weapons — cancel his agreement to rid himself of all those weapons and keep the remaining 98 percent? (By 2013 Bashar had already killed 1,300 of his own citizens in Damascus with such chemical weapons — he means business.)
Will Iran, after seemingly thumbing its nose at everybody, now decide to forget any promises made and go on its merry nuclear-weapons way? Will China now get frisky with Japan and Formosa?
Up to now the U.S. has appeared to be a strong ally to help to put the brakes on dictatorial aggressors. Do we now, with our weak president, plan to renege on such pledges and settle for a quasi “Neville Chamberlin peace”? Are we possibly, at this point, at the very beginning of a very big war? Can we, in fact, see in our present situation the seeds of a WWIII?
All these questions would seem to be perfectly rational at this time, and to have no easy answers. The president has declared that he is freezing the bank accounts of seven Russian “movers and shakers” who have money in American banks! This futile mini-token of “retaliation,” following Putin’s taking over Crimea using the excuse of a questionable “referendum.” Something has got to change: either our protective stance, or the vapid words that come from our White House.
• MEMORIES — My grab bag of distant memories includes a moment while I was standing on the stage of the Berlin Städtische Oper and it suddenly came to me that, “It’s a long way from Winter Park High School to the stages of Europe’s great opera houses! — how did I get here?” I asked myself.
In bed that night I tried to piece together the whole journey of how a Central Florida high school kid, whose main outside interest was football, charted a course that led him to sing on the stages of top European opera houses.
Things like that certainly do not happen by chance or all at once. Often life can bring one to a place where he never expected to be or even knew existed. It’s a day-at-a-time proposition, and lots of necessary decisions may have to be made before reaching the sought-after one that will change one’s life.