By Richard Peterson
While doing research for a 50 years ago article that appeared in this newspaper several weeks ago, I ran across a report to the people by US Congressman Usher L. Burdick in the December 5, 1957 issue of the Farmers Press. Burdick grew up on Graham’s Island and not only was a congressman, he was the father of long-serving US Senator Quentin N. Burdick.
Looking at Usher Burdick’s report from the vantage point of 50 years later, anyone would have to admit that he was an amazingly accurate prophet. Most people in 1957, I’m sure, dismissed his thoughts as nonsense. This was during the height of the Cold War when people all over the US were constructing "fallout shelters" in their basements to protect themselves in the event of a nuclear war.
Here’s Burdick’s 1957 report:
The only accomplishment of Russia in the launching of "Sputnik" is that it has put more "scare" in the people of this country and we can look to see the appropriations go beyond all limits in the next Congress. That is the only thing the Russians have to their credit in the launching of this manufactured satellite.
An uncontrolled missile is as dangerous to the one launching it as it is for the object for which it might be intended. Once this object is propelled far enough into space to go beyond gravity, or the attraction of the earth, there is no weight and the object is free to take a circular course in accordance with the whole solar system. It cannot be controlled as an instrument of defense or offense.
The missile that can be both an offensive and defensive weapon is one that can be controlled, and that is what the United States is experimenting with, yet there are a lot of political leaders who have seized upon this "Sputnik" as an evidence of our unpreparedness.
We are still scared of Russia, yet she is the least to be feared of all nations. Russia is ruled by a bloody dictatorship, and history demonstrates that a dictatorship of this type can have no sustained power. To make a dictatorship safe for the man who is dictator he must kill off all those who seem to have some popularity with the people. Stalin couldn’t permit any man to rise higher than himself, so he killed off thousands.
But Stalin died, probably by assassination, and a new crop came into power. Malenkov killed some, but not enough, and he was succeeded by Bulganin, who was elevated as the mouthpiece of Khrushchev; but Khrushchev, knowing something about dictators and their problems, didn’t let Bulganin get out of his front yard.
When the Molotov crowd was about to unseat Khrushchev he appealed to the army, under Zhukov, to stand behind him, and that was done.
Khrushchev won, and Molotov and company were banished or shot.
Khrushchev found out how powerful the army was, and decided that an army chief could oust him, and therefore, for his own protection, he pulled Khukov down out of control of the army.
No matter which crop of dictators is in control, they are trying to do the impossible thing. They are trying to root out the Christian religion among the Russian people. They have slain thousands of nuns and priests under their pet scheme of charging the victims with treason. Does anyone here believe religion can be banished ? The history of religion is teeming with persecution and murder, but it is still here, stronger than ever.
Just how long Khrushchev will remain in power I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that his fall is inevitable. He will be murdered by his own crowd (as perhaps Stalin was) and a new group of dictators will appear.
With a government like that, are we to be scared senseless by every move they make? If Russia went to war tomorrow, the next day they would be too busy with their satellites to fight. They have bluffed their way through for years, but one of these days that bluff will be called, and then where will they be?
Their uncontrolled "Sputnik" will not help them. Their lies and intrigues will not help them. Their bloody dictatorships will not save them. Their attempt to stamp out the Christian religion will not help them, and they will stand before the nations of the world as the most helpless of all nations.
No other end, in the light of religion, history and reason, awaits them. No agreements for peace can be signed with Russia, as she has, by her own deeds, proven that such agreements are valueless. Her word, founded on lies and intrigue, will rise to condemn her, and Russia will become the hunted outlaw of all nations.
Why should we fear such -a regime?
Burdick was wrong about Khruschev’s fate. He was removed from office, not murdered. On virtually every other point, Burdick was right. His was a lonely voice, however, because nobody listened to him. Everyone was fearful of the Soviet Union until it collapsed in 1991.
The Soviet Union collapsed because the communist system couldn’t produce military hardware and consumer goods at the same time.