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The Warsaw Voice » Society » April 30, 2014
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From the editor
April 30, 2014   
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Sometimes it takes a painful experience to help us see the world in its true light. Sometimes it takes an explosion—and the accompanying powerful dose of bright light—before we can see things clearly enough. The Russian-Ukrainian borderland has exploded, and in that flash of light we saw the world as it really is. And it isn’t exactly what we had imagined it to be.

President Vladimir Putin’s decisions and the way in which they were carried out give us a priceless opportunity to see that we are all part of a reality show—one that isn’t unfolding according to our script.

First, it turns out that the Western collective security system based on pledges and guarantees has its limitations. While it would be going too far to say this system has collapsed—after all, no NATO member has been attacked—agreements and principles have been negated, and a return to the status quo ante will not be possible for a long time to come.

Second, we cannot stop the negative script unfolding. Caught between one extreme of agreeing to everything and the other extreme of total conflict, we are counting on history taking its course and on negativity dying down. Slogans like “Russia won’t find it worthwhile” and “Russia’s opportunities lie in cooperating with the West” are used instead of the simple “Stop, you’re not going any further.”

The instruments we have at our disposal are insufficiently powerful and insufficiently quick-acting for the Kremlin to tell its troops: Stop! Worse still, instead of acting, we are conducting a rather sluggish debate on what we should do, which makes Moscow’s task all the more easier.

We have not done our homework. You can’t debate flood protection when the river is breaking its banks—building dams and dikes at that stage is useless.

We clearly let ourselves be seduced by the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Joyfully and naively, we entered a new era that, unfortunately, is turning out to be a utopia. We say we’re in the 21st century, which means new kinds of threats, new means of prevention, new ways of responding. We say this and it’s all just words. We are definitely strong enough not to be defeated. But we have to finally put that strength to use.
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