Another problem is that both sides have flawed arguments. The American insistence that such a military offensive in Crimea is an outrage is undermined by this country’s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Putin’s contention that Ukraine’s elected government was overthrown in a coup is certainly arguable. What else would you call it when street riots in Kiev caused the elected president to flee and his opponents to seize power? Or how about the military takeover in Egypt that the administration seems to be quietly accepting, even though the generals are being harshly and blatantly dictatorial? On the other hand, Putin’s claim that he was protecting the Russian-speaking population is pure fabrication. The fears that he is really trying to re-create a glorious new Soviet Union certainly resonate in former USSR satellites that have gone their separate ways. American officials are calling the Crimea annexation a “land grab” that is invalid no matter Putin’s justification, because as Secretary of State John Kerry put it, “that doesn’t legitimize just taking what you want because you want it, or because you’re angry about the end of the Cold War or the end of the Soviet Union, or whatever it is.”
What it is is still another danger on a planet that can ill afford more problems. At the same time NASA is cooperating with the Russians, it’s also funding a slew of studies, such as a new one compiled by a group of mathematicians. It concludes that human extinction in the next thousand years or so is “difficult to avoid” unless the wealthy suddenly decide to share their resources. Like that’s going to happen.
Maybe that’s why new projects on that space lab will include growing a vegetable garden. That should make Michelle Obama happy, and lay the, uh, groundwork for escaping this planet. But they’d better hurry. Continued miscalculations by ambitious world leaders, added to the already-volatile mix, could speed up the extinction timetable.
Bob Franken writes for King Features Syndicate Inc. He
can be reached by email at email@example.com. His website is bobfranken.tv.
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