The Truth from Poland
It was the invasion of Poland that started WWII. I remember it well, but not as well as the Polish people of my age do. It started a grim, debilitating and disastrous war. It is interesting, therefore, to find Mateusz Morawiecki, the Prime Minister of Poland, concluding his statement on 27 Feb 22 with these words “Peace must always be fought for. It must always be earned.” Sensible, peace-loving people will see the strength of that observation even if they don’t all agree with it. If someone attacks my brother I will attack that someone. Not immediately. First I will try to create peace between the antagonists with words of negotiation. If those fail I will resort to violence. Defending those I care for is, to me, a legitimate thing to do.
But who should participate and how much should they engage in this defence? With a brother, whether in a blood relationship or in a sympathetic friendship, the decision is fairly easy. And someone of my own nationality should be supported by me. Should someone of my own religion also be supported by me? The crusades were evidence that many thought so. Some still do. When Tony Blair left Downing Street he forecast that most of the wars to come would be religiously based. It turns out he was right. But war for an unprovable belief seems somewhat archaic today. War for the right to possess and enjoy one’s own property seems more practical. But does that ‘property’ include moral standards, ‘way of life’ or the political system you subscribe to? Governments have decided that it doesn’t even include actual houses in the case of Putin’s cronies who are losing theirs faster than the Ukrainains are losing the Ukraine.
It seems that nobody knows the answer to this. Hilton Yip in his article “Taiwan Is Rethinking Defense in Wake of Ukraine Invasion” (Foreign Policy Magazine 02Mar22) made a stab at it. “Western support for endangered democracies,” he said, “can only go so far.” Of course, he is right. But the real test of a country’s independence is its ability freely to elect the sort of Government it wants – even if that includes Boris. The key word is freely. In Britain, I would probably not cast my vote today as I have often done in the past because of the Party (parties?) that they have assembled in the name of ‘Post Brexit’ and the shambles they have accepted as their Prime Minister. In Britain I am free to choose. Should I fight for your freedom to choose?
Our present answer to this is that we will provide “support” if your freedom is threatened with being stolen. It’s a good word, ‘support’, because it is so elastic. It may mean sending hand-knitted woolly socks or a tanker full of nuclear weapons. Apparently it does not admit of actual presence and participation. Which seems daft if the issue is credible – and even dafter if it isn’t.
Freedom is an odd concept, getting odder every day as we prescribe systems which supposedly solve all our problems. They often create more than they solve. We also pass laws intended to stop us using our brains. It takes the greatest legal brains to understand them. But the shreds of freedom still exist and we should cherish those and help them flourish. They may soon be all that is left of humankind’s independence.
I’m sure we want the journey from cave to grave to be longer than that, don’t we?
Do you think we should fight for others’ freedom?
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