Who's aggressive
By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator


MARCH 21, 2014 -- David Gregory is on Morning Joe (3/21/14) complaining about Putin "pushing us around" and E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post (3/20/14) complains about Putin's "grab of Crimea" and the "Russian leader's aggression".

Who's pushing? Who's grabbing? Who's aggressive? Here, the United States with 200,000 troops deployed in two dozen countries around the world, threatening war in Iran and Syria; with missiles deployed on Russia's border and having for years upsetting Ukraine, thousands of miles from our shore, and now getting caught in an overthrow of the democratically elected President of Ukraine - who are we to complain about Putin protecting Russian interest in Ukraine that has been a part of Russia for two hundred years?

I know the Congress no longer has public servants but is full of candidates running for reelection and fundraising. But to have the best of journalists off-key is disturbing. We almost went nuclear when Russia put missiles in Cuba. Having invaded Grenada, Panama, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and drone kill at will, we think it's innocent for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to cause turmoil in the Ukraine.

The National Endowment for Democracy is no endowment. It is financed by the federal government by appropriating millions to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFLCIO, which in turn funds NED. It has been getting us into trouble for years. Long ago, Senator Dale Bumpers (D-AR) and I tried to kill it - unsuccessfully.

If you lift up NED on Google and search Ukraine, it shows that NED has been funding 66 entities for a U.S. "grab". The "grab" was a contest between Russia and the European Union for Ukraine to join either the Russian Eurasian Federation or the European Union. When Putin offered Ukraine $15 billion in an economic package, the President of Ukraine opted for Russia. The President was elected in 2010 by over a million votes. It's generally conceded that he is corrupt, but NED's man in Ukraine is an anti-Semite.

There is no choice. We financed and participated in the overthrow of the Ukrainian government. This forced Putin - not to grab - but to protect Russia's interest in Crimea. Sevastopol is the Russian Navy's outlet to the Mediterranean and Atlantic in winter when Russia's northern ports are frozen over. Putin deployed Russian troops in Crimea to protect a free election from Ukrainian troops. The Russian troops were unidentifiable. Putin adopted Chris Christie's speechwriter. When asked if the troops were Russian, he answered: "I don't know". In an uneventful election last Sunday, 97% of the vote was for Crimea to join Russia. In a separate incident earlier this week, one man was killed. But Crimea, Ukraine and Russia are far more peaceful than Washington.

The United States is caught off base, supporting an overthrow instead of an election. We've got to "cool it". Obama keeps prancing around as "Commander in Chief". Let Putin act like the Head of State.

Senator Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2014, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

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