Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Some Lessons Are Harder Than Others...

While I must admit that most of the pre-Cold War history of Lithuania is A, a bit over my head, and B, won’t fit here into a general background (I would try to be concise, but the old alliances and wars between the Polish and the ancient Lithuanian state that once was the “largest…in Europe” are not but summed up in the Post-Cold War progress of the nation)—I must mention  the Lithuanian people’s history of complicity in the coordinated violation of human rights for historically shameful  religious or racial reasons. They are a member of the European Union, which has within the past ten years warned the country about homophobic/racist legislation, and in Lithuania, it remains a “crime to disavow the fact” that the nation co-operated with Nazi Germany. 
There is a celebration of the “defeat of Communism,” sure, but I share a concern for the amount of attention given to one subject over another from various sources…maybe there will be a law in the future about disavowing the CIA prisons, given their cooperation with the CIA ”black-site” prison program, but there are no apparent investigations transparent in that manner at this time. This is most likely because of the Obama Administration position of “looking forward, not backwards,” and the “unique capabilities” of America to protect the sovereignty of her shores and those in our alliance. That guess is all this has to do with sea access in the exclave of Kalingrad, but…over my head. Hard to look past my attribution bias and into my cultural heritage.
       Lithuania (pop. 3,535,547)  has been recognized since 1922 by the United States as sovereign and independent (through the Cold War uninterrupted), and holds “favored nation” trade status, meaning, among other things, that their citizens can travel to the United State visa-free. Lithuania joined the EU in 2004, and in 2013, they join Greece and Ireland as co-Presidential Countries of the EU (such a position is held by the country, not the persons, to organize recognition of the legal and civic structure the EU intends to promote). Herself a former budget Commissioner of the EU, Lith. Pres. Dalia Grybaskiate (seen as a mini-Margaret Thatcher popularly due to her propensity towards austerity), is serving currently in the fourth year of her five year term, and she has the veto power over the budget provided to her by the representatives of the people—the Seimas, a 141-member Parliament (dominated now by the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, the Prime Minister’s Party) which is the supreme legislative body (serving four-year terms) The President nominates while the Siemas elects the system of Courts, which is much like the American structure, but with the addition of a Constitutional Court. According to their Constitution, any citizen may “defend his rights by invoking the Constitution.” Judges serve a three or six year term, but must wait three years to serve again. This is an effort towards transparency, participation, and independence America might learn from. Having “shared” capitalism and democracy, we might as well learn a lesson or two. 
     Since declaring their independence from the Soviet Bloc in 1991 (a freedom brought about not by a simple declaration, of course [Hello? Global 911?! Hello?! Echo…] but instead through a long series of internationally managed treaties, sanctions, and not without the flaring of more racist religious tensions), Lithuania has made progress in freeing themselves from the Iron Chain of Communism, but their largest trading partner is still Russia. The major exports are almost exclusively oil and mineral products, which are easy to transport across the mostly flat and arid land. There is approximately 12 nautical miles of sea access (on the Baltic, a briny sea), which of course applies their sovereignty to the airspace and the continental shelf. They are a member of a long list of International Groups, including the WTO, the WHO, and the UN (since 1991). Geographically, it is bordered by democratic Belarus and ancient rival/ally Poland, and is the largest of the Baltic States.
Going forward, the problems facing Lithuania are the problems every nation faces: polarization of political ideology (almost universally motivated by religious feeling), privatization (of their bundled, inefficiently focused energy supply, though here, we face “Starving of the Beast” and the gurgling of a bathtub), a free media facing some pressure politically to push ideology, Russian re-emergence; and a modern hatred that allows for white-washing of the past—which in turn, allows for a more insistent, perhaps  inevitable declination of progress. Remaining secure in their national identity while assimilating the governing policies of the EU, and the continual struggle of dealing with the inconsistencies between the real-world consequences versus theoretical consequences of each battling ideology will be the largest, non-single serious issue facing them. The navigation of management next year of the European Union, and of course their own, and so the American, and so the globally downward-trending economy is hardly secondary; this is Globalization, whether we do/don’t recognize that such structure as  it exists has value. To think that there are many in nations everywhere advocating for the complete and utter un-involvement of the American (or any) government in the business affairs (through regulation) of “the free market :-- outright and total laissez faire is too much generational change, and revisionism too…that somehow such an approach would save us all might leave a Liberal speechless. 
 This attitude, to be fair though, may come from a reasonable fear of overbearing and even inhumanely corrupt bureaucracies, so, yes; we need to first recognize personal sovereignty. However, I don’t believe we can stop here and be done. We must have also our allegiances to a Larger State, and that state must remain capable of protecting our Property and our Rights. Of bureaucracies, the text says, “governments cannot operate without them.”So…polarized we all are, each seeking to assert our own legitimacy in the face of denying that of the “other.” With every Republican candidate for Office of President in America sharing an agenda of massive population relocation, based on largely ethnic presumptions, shouldn’t we learn from Lithuania before we are again accused of human rights violations, but, having stood on letting “diplomacy run its course,” for so long on one foot, and “the unique capabilities of the US military” on the other, cannot avoid and must submit to external pressure and investigations ourselves, or be found illegitimate Keepers of the Torch for the Power of Sovereignty? Are we appeasing, or being appeased? Both and neither.  “Ask Bin Laden.” 
It seems that some lessons are harder than others. Such cognitive dissonance and separation from reality is the hallmark of dictatorships and banana republics. Watch out in 2013 for the Lithuania-US-Russia relationship and the effect of this relationship on the Global economic and military situations, esp. in relation to the Iran/Syria/Russia/China “coalition.”


Writing Assignment                                                              State Actors

Go to one or more of the following websites.  Choose a country other than the U.S. from a recent newspaper article and describe 1) population, geography, natural resources, economy; 2) government type; 3) membership in international organizations; 4) foreign policy position towards the United States; 5) most serious issues facing the country;
6) general background.  Type your answers in the box below using your own words, no outline or bullets, complete sentences and paragraphs, single-spaced, full-page. 
Give as much detail as possible. , ,


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