Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Are we on a brink of a war?

The TOK FM journalist emailed me yesterday. My radio interview  (already edited to a 5 minute segment down from an hour long conversation due to poor quality of the Skype recording) was to be accompanied by a lengthy feature- but it's now delayed. The story would have popped up on the station's website, but also on the portal of its parent company- Gazeta.pl, which is the country's newspaper as well as most read online publication. The regular work of all media back home is upset by the events in Ukraine and everyone is watching and waiting what will happen next.  Poland is just across the boarder. Whatever happens over there is likely to spill over and affect  all of us.  I may be in America, but like so many people in Europe I'm scared for the future of my country and the order, growth and peace it took us decades to develop. I was privileged to grow up part of a generation that not only doesn't remember war, but also wasn't there to witness the country rising from ruins and going through years and years of reconstruction. My dad and his bother would play "war" under their living room table. Famously  he  told my uncle stories about their adventures on the front Even my older brother in the early 1970's used to draw Soviet tanks inspired by semi-propaganda TV shows about Polish-Russian war alliance and everlasting friendship. The 1990's saw the collapse of the Russian sphere of influence and we all were looking eagerly to the future. To the west. To growth and stability. That excitement I was lucky to be part of remember, while I was spared the fear and devastation of war. And my parents' hope that in the XXI century, despite the centuries of painful history of being sandwiched between Germany and Russia, if our military and economic ties in Europe are strong enough nothing bad can happen, because it would not be in anyone's interest to bring about turmoil. Poland has been actively pushing for Ukraine's drift towards UE and NATO and for a good reason. Unlike some of the other former members of the Eastern bloc we are not surrounded by friendly nations. Western Europe politically speaking ends at our Eastern boarder and that always is a cause for concern. The emotions were running high over the last few days and with the internet the world watched live as it happened. What will Merkel do? What will Obama say? I think whatever happens next it's good to remember that a war is never an impossibility regardless how we may be progressed, united and developed. Yes, I understand that Ukraine has a politically and historically complex structure- quite frankly not only with Russians but also with Poles. One of the great accomplishments of the post World War II Europe was settling of most if not all of major territory dispute. A lot of Polish media seems to be drawing comparisons between today and the late thirties. How the West gave in to Hitler hoping to appease him. Hoping he'd stop with what he got. And after Germany invaded, Russia did the same from the East a few weeks later. To protect our eastern territories from fascism no doubt.  After all, Poland at that time wasn't an ethnically uniform country either. And all while the West strongly protested and did nothing. Polish media are watching the events as they develop closely and for a good reason. Not only because those things are happening right next door. We have enjoyed the longest period of peace in Europe in modern history. While conflicts happen, they're usually limited and internal. But it also tests our new NATO and UE alliances and assurances. What will the West do? Obama, as loved he may be in America doesn't come across internationally as a firm, strong, determined leader. Europe, between its own leaders, interests and agendas has a hard time figuring itself out. So between the statements, demands and protests, most likely nothing will happen. And  Ukraine will unfortunately pay the price of the world's inability to do anything.

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