Have you ever heard of Leon Theremin? If you don't know him but you like electronic music or have ever used a toll road transponder, or even if you've noticed the square tag on the side of a peanut butter jar at the grocery store, you have Leon Theremin to thank. The early 20th century Russian-born inventor developed technologies that have and will continue to change our world.
Despite the very tangible political or economic benefits it could bring, Russia never considered peacefully ceding any of its remaining territorial holdings to its neighbours. During the 1998 financial crisis for example, President Boris Yeltsin never thought of selling the sparsely populated, almost vestigial property of Sakhalin Island in the north Pacific to a cash-rich, land-poor Japan, even as Russia desperately needed hard currency to prop up a crashing ruble. If and when Crimea votes to leave Ukraine for Russia, Western economic sanctions will surely follow if Russia happily embraces the peninsula.
When black Dutch players received their Jim Crow-inspired welcome in Krakow last week, we were shocked, stunned, and depressed -- but hardly surprised. This stuff ain't new in that part of the world. Meanwhile a portion of the 10,000 Russian fans who have bought tickets will be holding a march from central Warsaw to the stadium. Poles view it as "provocative." Can you really blame them?
The Soviet Union once sought to intimidate, undermine, influence, subvert, exploit, deceive, penetrate, and dominate every country it had dealings with -- friendly or otherwise. It was paranoid and paralyzed by its dependence on the secret police. But today, the best course of action with Russia is to leave the damn country alone.
Three subsequent important prime ministers -- Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Stephen Harper -- invested their energies cleaning up the wreckage left by Pierre Trudeau. Finally, nobody speculates any more about Canada defaulting on its debt, or splitting apart, or being isolated from all its major allies.