The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

Rocking the Boat


The following is from the editorial page of the May 10, 1990 Seward Phoenix LOG.

WELCOME TO OUR SOVIET FRIENDS... The Seward Marine Center this evening will host a visit by Dr. Yuri Niktin and a company of scientists from the Siberian branch or the USSR Academy of Medical Science. Dr. Niktin and his colleagues were here last year for talks on joint research projects.

It has been an incredible year since they last visited Seward. Changes have taken place in their country and former client nations of the Soviet Union that few could have predicted. East and West Germany are reuniting. Poland and Hungary are electing their own democratic governments and moving into the world economic arena. Soviet citizens are openly debating the future of their nation for the first time in decades.

What is more remarkable about the tremendous changes in the world order we have witnessed is that there had been so little blood shed in the process. Seldom in history has such a vast shift in territorial control or political allegiance been accomplished without war. Is it possible that those who predicted that war is becoming obsolete were correct? The intricate web of economic and social ties that have grown in this century has left little room for aggression, as those who would make war realize there are few places they can attack without destroying their own investment or threatening resources they need to survive.

This is not to say that there will be no more wars, as petty tyrants and fanatics squabble over the broken rubble of their nations. But it may mean the world is becoming increasingly intolerant of war as a means of accomplishing political goals. Instead, it is channeling its aggressive tendencies into economic battles. Nations like Japan and Germany learned the hard way that the peaceful pursuit of economic power is far more fruitful than a strident militarism. They spent little on defense, instead directing their energies into creating wealth.

Defense spending has bled the Soviet Union dry. Its economy is in tatters. Its people are impatient for the benefits Western people enjoy from their work. Since the age of the Tsars, the Soviets have know little of freedom, since the communist revolution nothing about the marketplace. It will take time for Gorbachev’s revolution to be achieved. It is interesting to speculate about a capitalist Soviet Union. If instead of powerful enemies they become economic rivals, the Soviets have tremendous resources to draw upon, both in the riches of their land and in their own wisdom and passion.

While all these changes are happening, eight Soviet scientists are here in Seward to visit. It is curious that even in the darkest days of the Cold War, few people on either side showed any personal animosity when we met the “enemy” in person, and now that it has ended, we are all eager to show we are just plain folks who wake up in the morning and get through the day the best we can. Even Gen. Patton, who, after he got to Berlin was ready to push on to Moscow, drank a toast with his Soviet allies. It’s always that way. The worst picture our leaders paint of an enemy is washed away in a moment of personal contact.

We Alaskans live in a northern environment not unlike much of the Soviet Union. We must have a great deal to teach and to learn about life in the far north. It is not too much to suppose that our state, which was first visited by the Russians 200 years ago, will once again become a major point of contact between our two countries.


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