“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now,” President Trump said in a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.
I was the assigned duty officer at Fort Niagara in Youngstown, N.Y., on Oct. 22, 1962, when President John F. Kennedy addressed the nation about the crisis with the Soviet Union over that Communist nation’s clandestine building of nuclear missile sites in Cuba.
The same evening, we received a then-classified message from First Army headquarters in New York instructing us to increase our readiness level above normal. How much? The Air Force got ready to mobilize in 15 minutes. Within days, as post adjutant, I cut orders transferring two soldiers from our post to a Florida military installation to help prepare support for a possible invasion of Cuba. Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba to prevent the USSR from shipping more armaments to Cuba. We were on the brink of nuclear war.
“Even during the tensions of the Cold War, when the world looked much different than it does today, the United States and Russia were able to maintain a strong dialogue,” Trump said. Ignorance, delusion or both? How in the world can an American president stand on the world stage and reveal such astounding estrangement from the truth about his own country’s history?
Does Trump remember the Berlin Wall, constructed in 1961 to keep East German citizens from crossing over to the west? More than 170 people died trying to breach that structure. Checkpoint Charlie, the heavily armed exit in the middle of Berlin, was a center of international tension. I know, having stood on the American side as East German soldiers on the other side spied on us with binoculars. Berlin was a flashpoint in history that apparently never made it into Trump’s small and narrow mind.
Does Trump know anything about the Soviet-backed invasion by North Korea of its neighbors to the south — billed as the first military action of the Cold War? What does Trump think gave rise to the 38th parallel?
Why, President Trump, are 38,000 U.S. troops on German soil? To fend off attacks from Luxembourg, Switzerland and Malta? So shallow, so witless, so dangerous.