Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 2, 2014

Cold war as we transition to spring?


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — After a sabbatical of a few weeks, I’m back. No, I haven’t been on vacation, I have been working steadily here at the BDT sports department, but I’ve been absent from this page. I’m glad to be back here just as things are heating up between the United States and Russia.

Are we teetering on the verge of another Cold War?

It has been nearly 25 years since the old Soviet Union disappeared, the Iron Curtain rusted, countries from Poland to Romania cast aside old regimes and were welcomed by the Western democracies with open arms. Ukraine, an old nation that pre-dated the USSR, was freed from the grip of the Kremlin and was once again free.

Turmoil began recently in Kiev and other parts of Ukraine when the country’s president chose to break ties with the European Union and foster a closer relationship with Russia. Citizens protested in the streets an unfortunately many died as forces opened fire on protesters.

President Viktor Yanukovych has been ousted and is seeking exile in Russia. Meanwhile the Russians are conducting extensive military operations near the border it shares with Ukraine.

The United States, through Secretary of State John Kerry, said there would be grave consequences if the Russians get militarily involved in Ukraine.

Let us not be fooled. Even though the Soviet Union no longer exists, there is and has been influence from Russia throughout the world since the end of the so-called Cold War. We see it in Russian support of the Syrian government. It is present in the former states of the Soviet Union and we see it in the United Nations where the Russians counteract the United States’ positions on most key geopolitical issues.

Oh, and did I mention that a carrier group is in Havana?

This is not meant to serve as a call-to-arms or a scare tactic. It’s just pointing out that while we have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last dozen years, many may have failed to realize that it may not be China that is the major threat to U.S. interests, but an old foe that under a capitalistic rebirth has lulled us into a sense of security.

Now a little bit closer to home, the water woes continue in Charleston and areas affected by the Freedom Industries spill more than a month ago.

While government officials claim the water is safe to drink, the public has little or no confidence in what’s coming out of their taps. Schools have sent students home and canceled classes and some people I know say the water still smells like licorice and has a brownish tint.

Here in Bluefield we are not affected by what is coming out of the tap, but we are connected because West Virginia American Water is the supplier to both areas. Locally, Braine Braithwaite of the South Bluefield Neighborhood Association is circulating a petition to make sure costs associated with the spill are not passed on to WVAW customers in the form of a rate increase.

By the way, the bill passed in the West Virginia Senate earlier this month calling for more strict regulation of chemical storage facilities, is now being considered by a House committee. There are two weeks left in the legislative session and I for one hope that our legislators can enact provisions that will help prevent such an event from occurring due to lack of oversight.

Finally, we live in Four Seasons Country, a term that was launched by the former editor of this publication, a man I was proud to call a friend, the late Tom Colley.

I truly believe in the four seasons and we are in the process of transitioning from one season to the next in just a few weeks. Yes, we will be leaving basketball season and heading to baseball season, which in my opinion is the greatest of all seasons. I used to believe there were only two seasons — baseball season and off-season, but in my life the four are baseball, football, basketball and marching band. I am sure each of you have your own four seasons.

Bob Redd is a Daily Telegraph sports writer and editorial page columnist. Contact him at bredd@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTRedd.