25 March 2014

Polish Intellectual speaks out on Russian intervention in Ukraine: History come full circle ?

Polish Intellectual speaks out on Russian intervention in Ukraine: History come full circle ? 

Russian troops preparing to assault the Belbek military compound

Russian officers walk past the Ukrainian marine battalion headquarters in Feodosia (23 March 2014)

                               Nearly all Ukranian military bases are now under Russian control

Opinion Repost:

Adam Michnik is a Polish historian, intellectual, and former dissident. Currently, he is the editor-in-chief of Poland's leading newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza".

By annexing Crimea, Vladimir Putin behaved like the Godfather. He told Russia and the world: either your brains or your signature will be on that contract. This policy has proved successful, though nobody knows for how long.

In his speech, Putin spoke his mind: his regime fears no punishment and will do whatever it pleases. Crimea is just a first step in his dream of greatness. Yet he didn't say everything.

Each paragraph of his address was filled with lies and manipulations, for lies and manipulations are inseparable from Putin's thinking about the world. A subtle analysis of the speech would be a waste of time. The simple fact is that the president of Russia, a country that's so powerful and yet so alone today, has embarked on a path of confrontation with the rest of the world. He will invite partners for talks, and right away accuse them of acting in a "brutal, irresponsible and unprofessional way." This smacks of Dostoyevsky's Demons, creating as it does a world that does not exist and has never existed.

What does Kosovo, where the Albanians suffered persecution, have in common with the situation of the people in Crimea, who have never been oppressed? What's the point in contempt for Ukraine's government and parliament? What's the point in labelling Ukrainian authorities as "fascist and anti-Semitic"? Crimean Tatars will give no heed to the fairy tales about fascists ruling Ukraine; they can still remember the mass deportations, brutal and murderous, of their country people that were ordered by Stalin and executed by the NKVD.

Putin evokes the story of a Russia that the whole world has discriminated against for the last three centuries. Indeed, it's hard to imagine a more severe discrimination than the one dating back to the times of bloody despots: Catherine II, Nicholas I or Joseph Stalin.

Putin also warns Russians and Ukrainians that "we and you, the Russians and the Ukrainians, may soon lose Crimea altogether." Yet he fails to specify who – perhaps Poles and Lithuanians again – is whetting their appetite for Sevastopol.

We couldn't leave the people of Crimea "alone in their predicament," says Putin. These words make you smile a sad smile; it's a quotation from Leonid Brezhnev who made this statement in August 1968 when justifying the intervention in Czechoslovakia.

"We want Ukraine to be a strong, sovereign and independent country," says Putin. This in turn is a remark Stalin made about Poland in 1945. I will not mention here the words said by Hitler during the Anschluss and the conquest of Czechoslovakia – my friends, Russian democrats, have already done so.

History has come full circle. This is the real end of history – the history of dreams about a world governed by democratic values and the market economy. If the democratic world fails to grasp that now is no time for the traditional faith in diplomatic compromise, and that we must find a strong enough response to stop Putin's imperial and thuggish policy, then a logic of events will set in motion that one is even afraid to think of today. It takes force to stop a thug.

I commend and take pride in Poland's policy and the attitude of Polish society. Poland's prudent and determined policy does us great credit. But we must realize that the best quarter century in the last four centuries of Polish history is about to end before our very eyes. A time of tectonic shifts has begun. Let's appreciate what we've managed to achieve, and let's learn to protect it.

We all remember that the Godfather met an unhappy fate, and I don't think his Russian plagiarist will fare much better.

- See more at: http://www.novinite.com/articles/159094/Adam+Michnik%3A+Putin%E2%80%99s+Impunity#sthash.al1QMKM2.pdf


  1. It is a worrisome time. Is Putin likely to keep annexing states and territories, as he sees fit, and if so will the West have the balls to stand up to this aggression... a-la 1939 again... ?

    Or are we in the west over reacting, over what really is a 'local' matter?

    Its hard to get a real feel for the true picture, because I am sure Propaganda plays its part, for both sides...

  2. Good article however I think we in the west (particularly the English speaking part) fail to
    grasp something as the Russians see it. From the Russian perspective these lands
    were paid for by the blood of tens of millions of their great and grandparents lost driving
    the Nazis out. Russia also has more of the eastern long view of history than many in
    the west. These two factors make Putin's propaganda very palatable to the Russian
    mind. Sadly once a people believe the price has been paid in blood already only the
    shedding of even more can change that outlook. I know we in the west are not willing
    to go there. I do not condone what Putin has done or will do however the facts on the
    ground are what they are, in effect he's won this round.

  3. I just hope we don't have another "Peace in Our Time" a-la Richard Chamberlain. I've been reading about the WW2 Battle for Sebastapol and the Ukraine lately. Came across some articles when I dug out some old WW2 Encyclopaedias to research the British Sword Beach D-Day Landings that we intent to replay at our club in May/June. (Also follows on from last year's Kursk/Ostfront games) Unification of tribes/kin and "Lebensraum" issues lay at the root of our greatest conflicts, The situation just has the potential to become a powder-keg, and Putin took a calculated risk on the West not interfering. A page out of Hitler's book? I will post another opinion from Richard Cohen of the Washington post, and one from Matt Visilogambros saying we're overreacting. Only time will tell.