The crisis over Iraq shows how the US will attempt to manipulate the latest adherents to the EU, the countries of central and south-eastern Europe. Nations that were once the vassals of the Soviet Union are now in danger of becoming vassals of the US. In addition to the three former members of the Warsaw pact which signed the "gang of eight" letter, on Wednesday a new group, a "gang of 10" - consisting of the three Baltic states, plus Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia - issued a strong statement of support for the US over Iraq.Guh. Unfortunately for Mr. Steele, there are people like Matt Welch, who actually lived in the countries in question during the time of rebuilding and liberation, not to mention people who still live there and know a little more about what is going on than one Guardian lackey. (Must. Stop. Self. From making joke about poster of Che Guevara that probably hangs above Steele's desk. Oops. Too late. It was Jebus! He made me do it! He turned my coffee into bourbon! Darned inconvenient miracles.)
In 1989 there were those who thought these newly liberated countries would be bastions of new thinking. But the west was an attractive-looking club and they were anxious to join the winning side in the cold war. While the EU insisted on a slow and complex process of economically painful adjustment, joining Nato was relatively easy and the US used a mix of fear, flattery and economic incentives to get them to sign up.
Side note: one of the commenters to Mr. Welch's post keeps spouting the "America forgets about everyone it promises to help, look at Afghanistan" line, and it is beginning to cheese me off. No, it has cheesed me off. Let's review:
Afghanistan is not like a corner of Idaho or Maine, we cannot transform the country into a prosperous, self-sufficient nation -- hell, even plain old self-sufficiency would do -- in the space of less than two years, all by our lonesome. As a matter of fact, we have not abandoned the place, as a random Googling will show. But for some reason the fact that there aren't hourly features on that country on CNN means that Afghanistan has been "forgotten" by some entity known as "America." Well. What is meant by "America" in this context? Does it mean the guy at the corner grocery, the taxicab driver, the newsstand guy, the hot dog stand guy -- or, to pick some examples from parts of America other than New York City, does it mean the teacher, the baker, the comic book maker? Or does it mean to be a complaint that the president is not calling me, personally, every day to brief me on the day-in-day-out plans for every thing and every place the US is currently involved in? Let me bring you up to date on something: there is nary a country on the planet that the US is not doing something with, for, or to, and there is no way to compress news of all these activities into an hour-long press conference. Most of these activities are deadly dull, and a report of them would put you, the Concerned Average Citizen, to sleep faster than a Quaalude and vodka cocktail. Let's be real here: when people say "America has abandoned (insert country it was spectacularly doing something to or for last week)," we really mean, "America has been doing a lot of tedious, detail-oriented, time-consuming stuff that is slow to show results in (insert country) but it's too boring to talk about."
I have some advice for those of you who are sitting on your butts grousing about how "America forgets" everything, like an absent-minded housewife who keeps losing her car keys. TURN OFF THE GODDAMN TV. Try using this internet thing, just like I did up there. If you hate Google, there are other search engines. If you hate the internet (then how are you reading this? Liar.) then go to the fricken' library. I'd suggest checking out one of the large university libraries if it is possible; they have meatier stuff, like reams upon reams of boring statistics, charts, and reports like "PERIODIC REPORT ON THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO IRAQ... HOUSE DOCUMENT 107-179... 107TH CONGRESS, 2D SESSION." I mean, if you really want to know stuff and aren't just talking out of your ass in order to prove how hip and cynical you are about Dubya and the Repugnicans.
And please, please use some common sense: do you think that this nation, for better or worse, got into the position of power it is in today by forgetting any damn thing? If so, you have been h4X0rd and are now OWNED.
Update: a commentary from someone who currently lives in Bulgaria.Posted by Andrea Harris at February 9, 2003 12:46 AM