THE BLOG

From Russia, With Love

06/24/2013 08:28 am ET | Updated Aug 24, 2013

The Cold War is over. Russia is no longer the Soviet Union.

Producing some of the most talented people the world has ever known, Russia counts among her native sons Léon Bakst and Vaslav Nijinsky, Nureyev and Baryshnikov; Fabergé, Chagall, and Kandinsky; Dostoyevsky and Chekhov; Dmitri Ivanenko, who gave us the hypothesis of quark stars.

Great nations and gifted people enrich human history and human advancement. Why not let us all try to play together nicely, something that Congress and the Senate fail to do?

Young Snowden arrived in Moscow--that fabled land of the czars. He's said to be going to Cuba and Venezuela. Such destinations bring to mind Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Che Guevara was an Argentine idealist.

Che decided that a way forward was through revolution of the social classes. Che said that the violent, guerilla way is appropriate when facing a totalitarian regime where lawful protest is impossible. The Cuban Revolution overthrew the (US backed) Batista dictatorship. The US owned a multinational telecommunications monopoly in Cuba: The International Telegraph and Telephone Company (ITT), which gifted Batista with a gold-plated telephone for raising rates sky high in Cuba.

The United States owned Cuba, more or less. The US owned the majority of assets from utilities to sugar crops to mines and minerals.

Jack Kennedy says it best: In a manner certain to antagonize the Cuban people, we used the influence of our Government to advance the interests of and increase the profits of the private American companies, which dominated the island's economy. At the beginning of 1959 United States companies owned about 40 percent of the Cuban sugar lands - almost all the cattle ranches - 90 percent of the mines and mineral concessions - 80 percent of the utilities - and practically all the oil industry - and supplied two-thirds of Cuba's imports. (JFK Presidential Library Archives, 1960)

Che engaged in executions and armed conflicts. The French Revolution, The American Revolution, the American Civil War, and an endless roster of warrior activity across time strike me as ridiculous, although my own ancestors were soldiers in the American Revolution and in the Confederate Army.

We all keep killing each other. Forgetting about it. Taking tiny steps. And doing it all over again in an alternative setting.

(excerpt and image from the forthcoming memoir Infatuation by Alison Winfield Burns)

Snowden, like Elvis has left the building. Please let's not disgrace ourselves further by behaving like spoiled sports. We have important topics to address. Climate change effects mitigation, jobs creation, et cetera.

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