So too with NATO. There are today too many military careers, corporate interests and personal fortunes invested in NATO and in the American military-industrial complex that is it's primary support for one to realistically suppose that NATO will simple wither away and vanish. Nor is it feasible that the eastward expansion of NATO will soon be rescinded. Unfortunately, that is an omelet that cannot be unscrambled.
And yet NATO, now on the western border of Russia, is a major obstacle to a Russian/American detente. What then must be done?
The solution, I believe, is not the immediate abolition of NATO (impossible), but rather a transformation of NATO into an international alliance that is no longer threatening to Russia. This begins with a dismantling of forward missile installations and a reduction of military facilities. NATO then focuses its attention on economic, cultural and scientific research activities. Eventually, the "expansion" of NATO will include Russia. With the patent absurdity of hostility toward a member nation, the original objective of "containment" of Russia will then be lost to history.
But what then will distinguish the demilitarized NATO from the United Nations? Might not NATO simple be absorbed into the UN?
I have no problem with that outcome. Nor, I am sure, should any future Russian government. For with that outcome, the folly of NATO expansion in the nineties will at last be remedied.
6. Russia and the United States must unite in the face of common threats.
It's a fact as old as recorded history, and no doubt far beyond into pre-history: sworn enemies and rivals unite in the face of a common threat. Thus the Athenians and Spartans combined their forces to defeat the invading Persians. So too capitalist United States and communist Soviet Union united to defeat Nazi Germany.
Today the Earth -- our common home -- faces a threat far greater even than the invading armies of Xerxes or Adolf Hitler. Our technological cleverness has set the Earth's climate on a course which, if unaltered, will lead to the abandonment of all the coastal cities and to a global climate throughout much of planet's surface that will be incompatible with human habitation and food production.
Unfortunately, much of the disruption of the Earth's climate is beyond repair. Even so, significant mitigation of, and adaptation to, the coming emergency might be accomplished with a coordinated world-wide effort -- the sooner the better.
Russia, the United States, Europe, the Pacific Rim -- the foremost technological and scientific societies -- must lead this effort. And it must be a cooperative and coordinated effort.
Moreover, the scientists and engineers enlisted in this effort need not wait for government leadership. In the United States, opposition by the fossil fuel industries has blocked effective climate legislation and executive action. And so, perhaps, like the seismologists three decades ago who led the way to a nuclear test ban, private and non-governmental innovators might have to create and apply new technologies that established commercial interests and their captive governments now proclaim to be "impossible." Examples abound: renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, along with transportation powered by batteries and bio-fuels, would probably not be in place today if their development relied entirely on government-funded research and application.
For a brief historical moment, from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties, Russian history and culture and the Russian people, were regarded by most Americans with respect, admiration, and even affection. No doubt, this moment was largely brought about by Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika, by the reunification of Germany, by the Soviet peoples' successful resistance in 1991 to the Communist counter-revolution, and by the mutual reduction of nuclear weapons. This was the era of the Donahue/Pozner "Spacebridge," of numerous media programs accurately presenting the history and culture of Russia to an appallingly ignorant American audience. Clearly, a large majority of Americans, weary of a seemingly endless Cold War, had had enough and were eager to usher in a new era of peace and friendship with the Russian people. I trust that the same is true of Russian attitudes toward Americans.
And then, all too soon, it ended. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, American and NATO officials insisted upon treating Russia, not as a partner, but rather as a defeated "enemy." With the arrogance that I have detailed above, NATO expanded eastward, ill-informed and self-appointed "advisors" invaded Russia with open mouths and closed minds, and the American corporate media launched a new campaign to demonize Russia and its leaders.
So today we face this choice: shall the Russian and American people be antagonists or shall they be partners? Influential people in both countries (most assuredly in the United States) stake their careers, their prestige and their fortunes on the prospect of a renewed cold war. Yet a vast majority of people in both countries demand peace and friendship between our countries -- or would if the plain facts were brought before them. The darkening course of events suggest that the leaders, in my country at least, may well have their Cold War. But their success is not fore-ordained. They are few, and the people who want no part of a new Cold War are many. We can have our peace, but only if we demand it.
For my part, I will not abandon my friends. No pleas of "patriotism" will ever lead me to hate Russia or the Russians.
Your Enduring Friend,