With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.
There is nothing surprising in this.
If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.
- Herman Melville > Moby Dick
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Understanding Poland, Russia And The Horrors Of The Katyn Forests.
There will be conspiracy theories put forth to explain this terrible tragedy. It is unfortunate. It will not be helpful.
We live in an age where conspiracy theories are a dime a dozen. People seem to find comfort in the thought that bad and terrible things happen because someone or some group of people “conspired” to make them happen.
That bad and terrible things can happen for just plain inane, stupid, or silly reasons, or worse, no reason at all, means that chance and happenstance have more of a role in the currents of history than many people can stand.
For many, simple pilot error will not, can not, be enough. This is too monumental an event. It's timing and location are too significant to be just a mater of simple pilot error.
Sometimes, very bad things happen for no good reason. Sometimes, these things happen in what turn out to be the worst possible circumstance, at the worst possible place, and at the worst possible time - by no one's design. Sometimes, life is just like that. This is one such example.
Chance, Happenstance and cruel reality.
The crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and so many of Poland's top tier political leaders is a monumental catastrophe. It could not have happened on a worse patch of Russian ground.
The Katyn Forests are the site of a terrible event in Polish and Russian history. In that dark place, over a half century ago, Russia massacred about 22,000 Polish prisoners of war. The prisoners were largely Polish military officers and police officers. Among them were also many Polish political prisoners held by the Soviets. This terrible place, this horrible forest of death, this killing ground of Poland's best and brightest of the 1940's, is a sore and festering wound in the Polish psyche. It still haunts Poland's relations with modern day Russia.
To lose Poland's present day political leaders in this forest now is very terrible. It is terrible for Poland, and terrible for Russia.
Vladimir Putin is a not a nice man. Putin is trying to stay in power, trying to keep Russia from failing and trying to keep Russia relevant and important on the world stage. He is a brutal and thuggish leader of a nation in decline.
The Russian birth rate is so far below replacement rate that it's population is likely to be halved before the end of this century.
Russia is surrounded by hostile nations to the west that resent having been ill treated under the iron boot of the Soviet Empire.
To Russia's south are hostile Islamic nations, Chechnya included, that would love to feast on the rotting corpse of an enfeebled and weak Russia. They are hungry and they have growing populations. Russia will not be able to resist them much in the later part of this century. Russia simply won't have the numbers. When Russia loses the will and the means to hold off the wolves to it's south, they may be able to keep Moscow, if they are lucky. The Rest of Russia will be in dire peril.
Putin has been playing a hard game with the former east block states. He has worked very hard to weaken their resolve and to deny them the means to defend themselves against Russia. It has made relations between Russia and the former east block states unpleasant. But so long as nothing really terrible happens between Russia and the east block states, keeping them militarily weak is worth the price to the Russians of a few harsh words and the hurt feelings of the former east block states.
Then that plane crashed in the worst possible place.
Putin immediately knew that the crash was a terrible event. His quick action to declare himself the head of the investigation into the crash is his attempt to put Russia's best face forward on this disaster. He knows that it has the potential to strain already difficult relations with that former and very resentful east block state. Putin knows that the Poles have little reason to have anything but hatred and contempt for Russia. Now he has their dead President and most of Poland's leaders lying freshly dead in a new smoldering hole in the Katyn Forest.
Keeping the former east block states in check is difficult enough in normal times without having a stark and vivid reminder of how badly they have all fared at Russia's hands in the not so distant past.
I would imagine that in his memoirs, Putin will say that this was one of his worst days.
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Kilgorian excrement .... heh!ReplyDelete
I had been teaching Lenin and Stalin when this happened -- just before all of this I'd done a class on the Gulag Archipelago. It's not hard to begin connecting dots.