Wayne's Words: Different times, different players, same results

Wayne Horne | 7/13/2017, midnight
By Wayne Horne – whorne@thetimesweekly.com History is, sometimes, a good indication of what may occur in the future if circumstances ...

History is, sometimes, a good indication of what may occur in the future if circumstances in the present are similar or remain substantially unchanged. For instance, about 30 years ago a rock concert was held in what was then the Soviet Union. It was characterized as evidence of the new relationship with the United States. Then Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, had promised economic and democratic reforms seemed to portend a new and less antagonistic relationship was possible. Thousands of armed guards at the concert that did not allow concert goers near the performance stage indicated promised reforms would not occur.

Many diplomatic efforts since 1987 and before have attempted to bring the U.S. and Russia closer to little or no avail. The big positive to date is that no nuclear buttons have been pushed. There have been several displays of machismo since then but in spite of attempts to spin perceived success, not much is different today than 30 years ago, just the players are different.

Going back further in our country’s history to the 1800’s, we are reminded just how contentious political feelings could get among ourselves. This week in 1804 marks the anniversary of the famous duel between Aaron Burr, a former Vice President of the U.S., and Alexander Hamilton, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Neither would compromise on the dispute and Burr mortally wounded Hamilton.

Affairs of honor were commonplace in America at the time but were usually resolved before any actual firing of weapons occurred, according to the History Channel. Fortunately, affairs of honor between political foes today are handled with words and not violence, although the language can escalate to quite nasty levels.

On another page in history, President Richard Nixon in 1971 promised improved trade relations with China in return for influencing its ally, Vietnam, to reach an acceptable peace settlement. It was also hoped the Chinese would become an ally against the Soviet Union. Leveraging two of America’s most powerful adversaries against each other didn’t work any better at the time than it has today. Today we’re asking China to calm down Korea and trying to play footsie with Russia. Different time, different players, same results. No deal.

One last thing…about three weeks ago this column was about a shooting that occurred as several members of Congress were having baseball practice for a charity game they were playing the following week. In the aftermath of the violent gun battle one congressman at the scene suggested he would begin carrying his legally concealed weapon everywhere he went in order to be prepared to protect those around him from any gun violence. I said and I quote “I don’t want an untrained person drawing fire on a position where I’m located. The smartest thing to do in such a situation is to keep down and out of the line of fire and look for a way out.”

This last week, according to an NPR report, the British government released a four-minute video advising the public to "run, hide, tell" in case of a terrorist attack. The report continued… “the video advises that in the ‘unlikely event’ of a firearms attack, people should respond to the sound of gunshots by choosing an escape route and fleeing the scene. "This is the best option," the video intones.”

The same advice I gave three weeks ago is the same advice the British government gives all its citizens. It’s sound advice.

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