To the Editor: Sanctions will only make matters worse 

To the Editor: 

The opinion piece, The U.S. never pursued diplomacy, written by Hank Davis, Ph.D., in the March 17 edition of the Mount Desert Islander has my unequivocal endorsement. His point of view may be unpopular among many people, but he is absolutely correct. 

I was the director of the North Atlantic Defense System for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from 1984 to 1985. I established contacts behind the Iron Curtin through European diplomats and third parties. My staff and I made an effort to understand European concerns, particularly those of the Soviet Union. We made significant progress and I can say definitively that we changed the world. The “we” in this case includes people on both sides of the Iron Curtin. Most of this activity was diplomatic in nature and, apparently, much of it remains classified even today. 

One of the people involved with our efforts was a young and obscure Russian intelligence officer named Vladimir Putin. His activities in 1985 are not well known. However, I knew a great deal about his activities. I once remarked to my intelligence officer that I thought Vladimir had a great future in the Soviet Union. Relative to historic Russian politics and culture, Putin is not a “bad” leader. He is tough and determined. Gorbachev was nearly assassinated because he was not tough and determined enough. Russian leaders have tended to be brutal and unyielding. Putin is not a nice guy and cannot remain in power by becoming a nice guy. 

What can we do? Diplomacy is the answer. However, this diplomacy must be based on an understanding of Russian politics and culture. President Zelensky of the Ukraine is a professional comedian. Zelensky, the clown, has become a statesman and our statesmen have become clowns. This situation cannot end well. As the Director of the North Atlantic Defense System, I engaged in a diplomatic effort that surprised the State Department and saved many lives. The ambassador from the Soviet Union to the United States at that time referred to the subsequent agreement as “historic and unprecedented.” Yet, this agreement was not made public because it was not brokered in the usual manner. Now is time to put hubris aside and reach a settlement with Russia before millions of people perish. I know a solution is possible. Continued sanctions and military action will only make matters worse. 

David W. Lind 

Bar Harbor 

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