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Editor:

It is baffling the kinds of issues on which Donald Trump fixates. Of peculiar mystery are the threads of pro-Russian party line sprinkling his random remarks regarding eastern European politics. In the White House, we have a man who gets bored by international briefings, refuses to read cogent analyses and CIA white papers and comes to the job knowing scant geography, international politics and virtually no history.

I taught history through the ‘70s-‘90s. Well before U.S. involvement on the ground, students were interested in the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. It may have seemed a bizarre thing given Soviet economic struggles at the time, yet such a move to grab resources has always been Russia’s thrust. Calculated to put them closer to oil-rich regions, the Soviets found the Afghans in the way and figured it would be an easy takeover no one would notice. Afghanistan’s localized crazy-quilt warlord politics have since become the international crises the world struggles with today. 

Okay, that being said, why is it that Trump’s recent remarks have echoed a decidedly Russian propagandized take on their experience with the Afghans? He demonstrated no comprehension of what transpired in ’79, yet was perfectly comfortable holding forth on Vladimir Putin’s whisper that the Afghans were incursionary marauders and why the Soviets had difficulty.  

There are gross crises in government funding, infrastructure, health care and the environment. There are ill-considered, knee-jerk international and military moves with deep strategic and humanitarian consequences. And this president sits at a big desk and puppets Putin’s excuse — apropos of nothing — that Russia’s failure to take Afghanistan in the ‘70s was because it was strong in the effort to take the whole Soviet Union down. Huh?

Cynthia Whitman, Glens Falls

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