How to deal with Russia

Date: 22 Mar 15
From: Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,
2252 Joyce St.,
Burlington, ON L7R 2B5
905 634 9538
For: Editors, The Economist, London, UK
Re: “How to deal with Russia”, Letters, Feb. 28

Dear Editors:

Sir Tony has it right when he suggests the West “hug [Russia] close … ”

Allegorically, we might ask Russia: Why are you so paranoid just because two big men in white uniforms carrying a strait-jacket are knocking at the door?

Sanctions, military encirclement, and similar measures against Russia are obviously failures. Putin’s domestic popularity is sky-high. His strategy is sound and his tactics adroit. He is keeping us off balance and quarrelling while he reaches his objectives one by one. He is taking advantage of the average Russian’s infinite capacity for suffering. So are we to repeat and reinforce our failed tactics? “The definition of insanity …. ”

History offers us a sane, successful alternative. Pitiless, vindictive oppression of Germany by the WWI victors brought us WWII, but the Marshall Plan of 1947 (officially the $160 billion European Recovery Program, ERP), arguably, brought us today’s powerful, rich, hard-headed, democratic, responsible Germany, the de facto leader of Europe. The ERP penetrated far into the Allied countries; we Canadian citizens sent individual parcels of food and clothing to individual German families, whose responses were truly moving.

We might well develop a “2015 Marshall Plan”, so named out of deep respect for US Gen. George C. Marshall, whose remarkable prescience had these history-altering results.

Of course Russia would suspect everything we might do in holding out a helping hand; but skeptics are invited to suggest a better tactic alternative to those that have clearly failed.