Not the old Cold War

John F. Kennedy had a very rough first year as president of the United States.

In April 1961, the botched Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba resulted in a rout of exiles from that island nation who had been trained and backed by the Central Intelligence Agency. It was an embarrassment to the U.S. government and it served to shore up the rule of Fidel Castro.

Then on today’s date, Aug. 12, in that same year, the East German government began construction of the Berlin Wall. The brutal Communist regime grew tired of the steady exodus of refugees from East Berlin to West Berlin and so built the infamous wall to keep its citizens enslaved.

It’s interesting to note these two episodes from Kennedy’s first year because recently there has been talk of the U.S. and Russia returning to a Cold War mentality. Certainly, Vladimir Putin seemed to be revisiting his KGB view of the world when he granted asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

But we think the Cold War talk is overstated. President Obama’s decision to cancel his one-on-one talks with Putin before next month’s G-20 summit is rooted in practicality – why reward a recalcitrant like Putin with a private audience?

The fact of the matter is that since the collapse of the Soviet Union there is only one superpower – the United States. The president does not have to go begging Putin for anything and – as long as Putin maintains his current stands on Syria, Snowden, anti-ballistic missiles, etc. – he should be ignored.

This is not the Cold War world Kennedy faced. Putin is trying to act like the old KGB bully he once was. But it is empty bluster. The president was absolutely correct to cancel the meeting.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.