Re "Putin Rolls to Victory, Avoiding a Runoff," March 27:
There was no way ex-KGB spy Vladimir V. Putin was going to lose or even face a runoff. Anyone who believes that Putin will weed out the Russian Mafia that is so deeply entrenched in the economy will probably be interested in some Florida swampland. This country has not been able to rid our society of certain Mafia interests (gambling, drugs, prostitution) in 50 years. Putin is far from being stupid, and he knows that if he were to go after the Russian Mafia, he would not be alive to celebrate his next birthday.
The United States will not be able to bargain with Putin any more than it did with Josef Stalin, Nikita Khruschev, Mikhail Gorbachev or Boris Yeltsin. Will we ever learn from our past history? Probably not. Russia, along with China, only believes in one axiom. All power comes out of the barrel of a gun.
Re "Putin Has China Card Up His Sleeve," March 29: Jim Mann says, "The strategic triangle of ties among Russia, China and the United States isn't quite dead yet."
In fact, it is just revived due to Russian political strongman Putin coming to power and the mistakes that the United States has made in its foreign policy and military actions both in Europe and Asia recently.
Russia and China are pushed together to form a strategic alliance to defend their territorial integrity (Russia with Chechnya and China with Taiwan) and against the global hegemony of the United States. The U.S. is the strongest of all but inexperienced and spread too thin. Russia still has advanced weapons technology and China is a rising power. This new "triangle power struggle" is just starting. A review of Chinese history shows a similar situation at the end of the East Han dynasty.
Rancho Palos Verdes