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Pawns for ever
Eastern Europe needs to learn lessons from the past . . .

History has borne testimony (though not often acknowledged in as many words) that it is not always the high and mighty who have crushed and subjugated the weak and the downtrodden. On the contrary, many of the lesser entities have been more than willing to be pawns in their quest to carve out an identity for themselves. Post World War II, and with the advent of the Cold War era, the Warsaw Pact between the former USSR and East European countries led to the USSR completely taking over the military control of East European countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, while indoctrinating them against Western Europe under NATO. As the USSR made these countries its launching pad for a potential strike against the NATO countries, it also played one against the other to ensure that they did not unite against Soviet domination.

While both USSR and the US took great technological strides during the Cold War, most of the East European countries had their economy in a shambles. Much water has flowed down the Oder since then. After the disintegration of the USSR, while Russia recovered and resurrected to be counted among the most promising economies of the world, other East European nations that had adopted the Soviet model, are barely surviving in a world where Third World countries like China and India have surged far ahead. Poland and the Czech Republic are willing to host US missile interceptor bases, indicating that they have not learned much from their Cold War experience.

While the US makes sure that its future wars take place far away from its land, the former client states of the USSR are willing to be pawns again on the geopolitical chess board and remain subservient to Uncle Sam in return for a semblance of security and democracy. Some things never change. Otherwise why would nations that have won freedom with great hardship, would be willing to barter away that freedom.

Pathikrit Payne

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