Medvedev’s War with Stalin

stalin2

Dear Leader

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has made an outspoken attack on those seeking to rehabilitate former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

BBC has reported that Russian President Medvedev has launched a scathing attack on the latest attempt at revisionist history.  Now this has two implications.  One, its about damned time that someone in power in Russia put a stop to this nonsense in trying to glorify one of the greatest murderers in world’s history.  Its also part of the bigger problem with revisionism in Russia regarding its Communist past.  The second issue it that he indirectly takes on the former Russian president and his political mentor Vladimir Putin, who is one of the revisionists.  Could this mean a beginning of a break and a possible power struggle in the Kremlin?  Or is it a one off issue with sanity prevailing?

Russia has a problem in dealing with its history.  In this it is not unique, what is unique is that it lost a war, as Cold as it was, and Empire, without feeling properly defeated.  So Russia struggles to understand with what and how it was allowed to happen.  Its people remember a strong glorified USSR while forgetting the bad parts.  Nostalgia run amok.  They see the former Warsaw Pact nations and the former Soviet Republics as ungrateful and anti-Russian.  In that they are correct, save Belorussia, but they do not understand the reason why the formerly oppressed peoples did not appreciate the benevolent rule of the Soviet Proletariat.  So there is friction between Russia and most of its former satellites.  But to justify their rule Russians have started to justify communism, USSR, Soviet Imperialism, and worst of all, even Josef Stalin.  And here is where president Medvedev drew the line.

And where he comes against Putin’s policy and politics.  Putin’s party glorified Russian and Soviet history.  It essentially became the Russian nationalist party.  And as such it needs heroes from the past.  It does not deal with nuances.  Stalin beat Hitler and saved the USSR, therefore they see Stalin as a hero, sure he might have murdered countless millions but he won The Great Patriotic War where the peaceful workers and peasants of the Soviet Union crushed the Nazi menace.  Of course when put like that, and when Stalin’s other great achievements are highlighted, a little thing like millions of dead, and decades of horrible opression is not important.  Until now.  To most of sane people world over Medvedev’s speech would not seem news worthy, after all, he said nothing none of us did not know.  But the fact that the president of Russia had to make such a speech is news worthy itself.  It shows the level of revisionism in Russia, and the willingness to glorify evil in the name of the Motherland and to justify its history.

Russia still did not shed its imperialist aspirations.  It still sees itself as a world power with a sphere of influence larger than its true capacity.  It still sees the West as its natural rival.  And because of this it needs Stalin to be a good leader.  Recently there was even a libel court case in Russia where Stalin’s descendants sued to have Stalin rehabilitated.  Fortunately they lost in the Russian high court.  It unbelievable really how the rest of the world says nothing.  If Germans wanted to rehabilitate Hitler we would all be going apeshit, and rightfully so.  Yet, while president, Putin was allowed to instruct for history books to be written in a way to highlight Stalin’s “glorious achievements.”  How?  Will Medvedev’s move be a new direction in Russian history or is this just a one off and Putin will tell him to shut up.  Putin’s reaction will be interesting, after all it was he who put Medvedev at the head of the Kremlin, while satisfying himself with only the role of premier because the constitution would not allow him to be president for life.

If Putin wont like Medvedev’s statement then it could lead to a break up in their relationship and a possible power struggle in Russia.  A clash between the two most powerful men in Russia could lead to instability in a very fragile democracy ( here I use the term very loosely).  And it could have far reaching implications.  On the other hand it could be just a propaganda move to placate the West and everything will go back to business as usual once Western Europe stops cheering for president Medvedev and his Great War on Revisionism.



Advertisements

Can US Succeed in Afghanistan?

The other question is, should we try at any cost?

Where Empires Go To Die

It is a favorite saying for those who can not see any way that US, its allies, and the new Afghan regime can  succeed there.  They point to history and show that whenever Afghanistan was invaded the invaders lost.  Well that’s very nice.  It is a testament to Afghan pride and military prowess that they fought off the invaders.  But the current situation is not exactly a repeat of British colonialism.  Nor is Afghanistan our new Vietnam.  Any and all comparisons are misleading as the current geopolitical situation is nothing like it was at the height of the Cold War.  Afghanistan has enough of its own current problems, we do not need to borrow from the 19th Century or from Southeast Asia.  Yes the lessons of history need to be learned, but history never repeats itself.  The US Army is not the Soviet Army, we are not there to control the Afghan people and its government.  But there seem to be no simple or easy answers in how to win in Afghanistan, nor what victory really means.

Throwing Troops at the Problem

From the beginning our mission in Afghanistan was doomed to fail.  It was based on wrong assumptions and wishful thinking.  Troop levels were ridiculously low, the amount of investment for rebuilding was not better, nor was the manpower provided.  Overtime as Afghanistan was failing we increased our troop levels, and improved on investment.  Now the ISAF commander wants 40,000 more troops.  The increased troop levels would at least temporarily increase security.  However that security will come at a price.  The price is not only financial, but more importantly American lives will be lost.  In order to cover more territory in Afghanistan the troops will be deployed in harm’s way.  Already we have seen a surge in American and NATO casualties in Afghanistan.  That is to be expected with the new strategy of getting out among the people, it will also continue, with yet another surge of casualties when as expected, more troop arrive.  Is America willing to pay the price for victory?

Now there is a section of America that says yes, its willing to shed blood of our soldiers in the name of victory.  But that mood is changing.  While Iraq was seen as the unnecessary war, Afghanistan was the good and quiet war.  Little casualties, little attention paid.  Now Afghanistan is finally moving to the front pages of America’s conscience, and  once again we find that less and less of Americans are supporting the war.  Just last year many supported a surge there because our policy was failing, now it seems that when our boys start coming home in body bags, the resolve is not there.  President Obama has two important jobs.  One is to figure out the correct strategy for Afghanistan and to give the tools and money necessary to do that job.  The other is  convince the American public that this is indeed a necessary war.  Afghanistan will become Obama’s war.  Any success or failure will be attributed to him.  People will forget that our troops, as few as there are, are fighting there for 8 years.  Because the new policy will be a major shift in our role there, and it will be on Obama.  And I am sure he realizes it.  I am also sure he realizes the difficulty he faces there.

Two Enemies

The US and allied forces are fighting not one but two enemies in Afghanistan.  They may be allied, but they have different aims and we must remember that.  Al Qaeda is a global Jihadist movement that will not stop until all are under the benevolent rule of Allah’s followers.  Its aims are not local, they couldn’t care less what happens in Afghanistan, but the Infidels are there so they’ll try to kill them.  Taliban on the other hand is local.  An invention of Pakistan’s security service, its aim is to rule in Afghanistan, and now in Pakistan.  They also recruit from the locals.  Whereas Bin Laden’s Jihadists are from all over the world.  We are fighting two different wars, we must not forget that.  We can win one and lose the other.  Neither will be easy.

Our aims against Al Qaeda are to prevent their capacity to launch terrorist attacks all over the world.  We can possibly achieve this without winning in Afghanistan (although a loss there will make it harder), we can cut off their financial and communication network, and our fight against them is not limited to Afghanistan.  Afghanistan, and Pakistan by extension, are just two fronts on the global war against Al Qaeda.  We  can do more with our policies here to stem the growth of global Jihad than we can with just bombing villages.

Against the Taliban however that policy must be reversed.  We must win on the ground.  We also must change our tactics.  Its great if we can spot and then bomb a couple of Taliban fighters in a village, but when we destroy a home, or god forbid kill innocent bystanders, we do more harm to our cause than good.  The survivors in that village will come to see us as faceless murderers of their children, and they will support the Taliban.  However if we move into that village, even after the Taliban fighter pull out, then we are seen a force that has a face, and we could possibly gain the locals’ support.  That however will mean putting our troops in harm’s way.  The only way to win in Afghanistan is to bring law and order to the country, its after all how the Taliban came to power.

Yes, we must take from our enemies’ handbook, and not be shy about it.  Right now much of Afghanistan is still a lawless country.  Private warlord militias roam the lands.  The government is utterly corrupt, from the ministerial level all the way down to the local officials, corruption is rampart.  Opium is as big a problem as corruption.  Yet the Afghan government is incapable or unwilling to deal with these problems.  The people of Afghanistan are used to a hard life, they will do without luxuries, but when they can not get necessities, or when they can not get anything done officially without bribing the local rulers, then they will turn to the ones who promise them law and order.  Namely the Taliban.  And it gets worse.  Not only is the government inept, its legitimacy also is questioned after the recent troublesome elections.  America and its Allies can not be seen supporting an illegitimate government.  Not only are we foreigners, but when foreigners support a bad illegitimate government they then go the way of the Red Army.

If we must prop up the Afgan government then we must insist that it changes for the better.  With more troops we will be in position to tell them to get rid of some of its worst warlords.  It might mean creating new enemies, but the people of Afghanistan will see this as a step forward.  The government must also curb its rampart corruption.  And actually start working for its people.  Opium trade must be supplemented by regular, non addictive, crops.  And that again, means making enemies of some of our Afghan “allies.”  With enough troops on the ground we can bring this under control, but only if the Afghan government will be willing to work towards the same end.  Finally we must do something about Afghanistan’s neighbor.

Pakistan

The war in Afghanistan can not be won if Pakistan is in a state of chaos and their government is threatened by the Taliban or by international Jihadists.  Pakistan created the Taliban.  Pakistan also does not have control over large parts of its territories.  The so called Tribal Areas are more restless then ever.  Attacks on government institutions happen with alarming frequency these days.  We must make a choice.  And its not an easy choice.  Either we let Pakistan fall where it may and risk having an enemy government next to Afghanistan, and with the control of nuclear weapons.  Or we support Pakistan’s current government knowing that they are not truly our allies and have done more harm than good to our efforts in the region.  Neither is an appealing proposition.  The govt of Pakistan on the other hand must be seen by its people that it stands alone and is not an agent of the Infidels from America.  They too, even if truly willing, have a difficult task.  Will another coup happen if the military feel that the current leaders are losing control?  Will it help or make matters worse?  The Pakistani people might not be inclined to accept yet another military govt.

Helping Pakistan will cost money more than lives.  President Obama has a dilemma there too.  He talked tough during the elections about possibly striking within Pakistan’s borders if he felt it would help in out fight against Al Qaeda.  But will such attacks help or hurt our cause overall, or the Pakistani govt which is fighting for legitimacy?  No easy answers.  Compared to this Iraq seems like a straight forward affair.  Pakistan has a choice to make, either it will fall to the extremists or it will make a stand and bring its lawless regions under govt control.  To do that however it might have to fight a bloody civil war, and its outcome would be uncertain.  An open war against extremism in Pakistan might actually create more terror outside of its borders.  Another possible, if perhaps only temporary, solution is to deal with these people.  Both inside Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Dealing With the Mullahs

Now many on the right will dismiss this notion out of hand, “we don’t deal with the terrorists.”  Well we do, so do our allies, all the time.  The above mentioned problems might mean a victory will be a long and very bloody affair, and by no means a certainty.  Perhaps talking with the Taliban (on both sides of the border) is not the worst possible solution for the two nations.  It would buy us and Pakistan time to stabilize both nations.  Its not a good solution, but it might be the least bad of all.  With it Afghanistan would be able to pick itself up, govt could become more stable, corruption could be dealt with, we could have time to peacefully improve the lives of ordinary Afghans, and the Taliban would stop being the only group that supports law and order.  The Afghans are tired of war and warlords, and corruption, they will turn to anyone that promises them that.  They do not hate nor love us.  They just want to be left alone to their daily lives.  A peace deal with the Taliban (presumably with some kind of power-sharing, but with their acceptance of US presence there) could provide that.

At the same time a peace deal by the Pakistani govt with the Taliban in its territory and its lawless tribes would provide the govt the stability its lacking today.  They would have time to decide what to do with its nuclear arsenal.  And could work on proper governance instead of just focusing on battling extremism.  They however would need to work much closer with the Afghan and US governments to do this.  History has proven that Pakistan working only for its short term gains is no good for anyone.  Either way, no easy answers, and no certain outcomes.

What is Victory?

What we must ask ourselves is that, is the price for victory, however we define it, worth it?  That is an another thing.  We have no definition of victory.  Yes we talk about defeating the extremists, but can we really?  As long as there are areas in Pakistan willing to provide them asylum we can not defeat them.  Total victory, as America knows it, is impossible in Afghanistan.  Its govt is weak and corrupt, and we have very little support from the people of Afghanistan.  Our troops can win the battles but we can still lose the war.  Winning battles with the best and most modern army in the world is simple.  Winning a war is difficult when you are fighting a guerrilla war.  Every time we win a battle we lose support at home, a democracy will not support a war its people do not understand.  its been 8 years since we went to Afghanistan, and there is no end in sight, in fact it seems further away than ever.  So the president must first convince the American people that it is indeed worth the effort and blood.  And he must tell us what is it that we are fighting for and what victory will look like.  It is no easy task.  With so many other problems we face in America, convincing the American public will be even more difficult.

It was the right war.  But is it still?  More questions, and no easy answers.  When we find them, we rarely like what we see.  Afghanistan is not our new Vietnam or an updated Soviet Union’s fight with the Mujaheddin.  But it can become that.  If we fail to make the right choices.  What those are I do not know, as I have stated, no easy answers, just difficult questions followed by more questions.  The slogan for this war is not “Yes we can,” instead its “Can we?

I hate Communists! Episode 2

Continued from here:

I Hate Communists Episode 1
Yep, still hate them.  And here I will explain why.

A Failed System

Trans: Youth forward to fight for a happy socialist Poland

Trans: Youth forward to fight for a happy socialist Poland

Now I may root for the New York Jets, but generally in politics I do not like losers so much.  Especially those who fail through no fault but their own.  And communism failed, failed miserably, all through its own doing.  It was inevitable.  There were no ifs or buts.  It was only a question of time.  A question of how much and for how long would the Red Masters be willing to force their flock to suffer before even they realized that this can not last.  It took a while, they drove their countries into ruin, but eventually even they could not force their people to live any longer in such misery.  Communism went bankrupt, and the world is better for it.  The only shame is that it lasted longer than one day.  It was not undermined by foreigners or from within.  It just failed, it could not work.  It is that simple.  Communism, for all its good intentions, is a system that goes against human nature.  And as such it is incompatible to humanity in any way shape or form.  Humans don’t do much for the good of the people.  We are rather selfish creatures.  We are also individualist creatures, we want to do things as we want, when we want and how we want, communism does not allow for that.  Communist economic ideals simply did not withstand the test of time.  As soon as people were given a chance they shed its Red cloak and went the way of communism’s enemy.  The people want capitalism.  Now of course we may debate what kind of capitalism we want, and which is best for societies, but communism is bankrupt.  It fell, either through upheaval or from the top, as in China.  The Chinese rulers may call themselves communists, but every time they do Karl Marx does 360 degrees in his grave.  The Chinese are the biggest capitalists the world has seen.  They realized that in order to stay in power they will have to give their people means to live.  No Central Planning economy was self sustaining.  It simply does not work.  Never has, never will.

Any brief illusion of Red prosperity was a lie to quiet the people.  But that too could not last.  By giving their people bread and luxuries (years after the decadent West had them) the Red masters bankrupted their nations.  It simply was not efficient.  The idea of getting out as much as you put in was a farce.  Its great in books and brochures.  Problems start when the idiots who read them try to implement them.  Now of course commie apologists will point out that we have never witnessed true communism.  And they would be correct.  Communism as the Red Prophets envisioned has never been attained.  There is a reason for that.  Because its impossible.  Simple really.  In that sense communism is like religious paradise.  Unattainable on the planet Earth.  Yet again the apologists will try to explain that historically it was so because not all the countries were communist and therefore true communism was undermined by the imperialist Western powers.  Well no, not really.  The reason many countries did not become commie was quite simple.  Paradise is an illusion, an unattainable illusion, and most people not only do not want it, they realize that its an illusion.  Communism, for all its grand talk of being a people’s movement was never supported by those it wanted to save.  It was always a minority movement, usually enforced from the top and as such it could not be supported by the people.  The whole thing was built on a lie.

Thou Shalt Have No Other Comrades Before Me

Yep, sounds like a Commandment, and it was really.  The Red Prophets despised and put down religion, and for a good reason.  No one likes competition.  Communism was not just a movement to help people, it wanted to save them.  And as such it would tolerate no other gods before them.  They took the “cult of personality” to a new level.  They had the great prophets, Marx, Engels, and their new Christ, Lenin.  They had their martyrs, Che, Rosa Luxemburg, many anarchists of the 19th and 20th Centuries whom they took as their own, whether they were or not.  They had their Holy Book.  They had their ideology.

There was one constant in communism, a unique thing for them.  The one constant thing was their Holy Trinity of Marx, Engels and Lenin.  Everything else varied depending on the time and circumstances.  Stalin and his flock were thought as holy until Khrushchev made his little speech, then it was ok to criticize The Great Stalin.  After Brezhnev took over then of course it was ok to criticize the Ukrainian peasant.  And so one and so forth.  Each and every time the new one came to power the speech started with “mistakes were made”  blah blah blah.  Same speech, different names.  Pointing the finger at individuals, the system overall was perfect, it was only those who were corrupt that make it imperfect.  Every communist country witnessed this.  Every new leader was going to make changes for the better, and finally lead everyone to the Promised land.  Yep, each new guy in charge was the new Moses.  But after a while everyone saw through it for the bullshit that it was.  It wasn’t the old guys, it was the system.

And the system was corrupt itself.  It was built on a lie, in fact it was a lie itself.  And it was impossible to argue with the dialectic.  The dialectic was flexible.  It could explain everything and anything.  It was full of great words and big promises.  The fact that it was so flexible proves that it was a lie.  The same people using the same logic first explained to everyone why Stalin’s actions were for the good of the people, then after his death, they explained why they were bad.  And in the same breath they explained, using the same logic, how everything will be different.  They kept changing their dialectic almost on a daily basis.  That is why it failed.  It was a lie.

The Red Terror

We know of the countless millions of people the Reds murdered over the years.  There is no need to rehash every crime they committed.  What I want to point out is that they committed crimes against the very people they claimed they were saving.  It wasn’t just reactionaries, enemies of the State, and foreign capitalist agents that they murdered.  They murdered their own.  Every chance they got.  When they just kill them all they quashed them.  A perfect example is the Polish Solidarity movement.  It was a TRADE UNION!!!  Yes, a trade union.  People tend to forget that.  They were not asking for much.  Just some respect and a say.  They were not the enemies of communism, they were not foreign agents.  They were the Proletariat!!!  They did not ask for power, they did not want to depose the Commies, they wanted the system to give them what they deserved.  What they got was something totally different.  The Communists are not the enemies of the evil capitalists, they are the enemies of the peasant and the proletariat they claim they represent!!!  In that they are worse than any religion, for the religious are intolerant only of the unfaithful.  The Reds tolerated no one but those in power, the rest were there to take orders and smile and applaud.

The authoritarian nature of communism is what makes it so evil.  Freedom is only a slogan.  The Reds tolerated no dissenters.  They rewrote histories.  Called people who were good evil.  Called those who were evil good.  The evil Czars based their power on traditions and secret police.  Communism was without tradition so their power rested solely on terror.  They want to control people’s hearts and minds.  As such it was completely paranoid.  And this paranoia extended everywhere.  Schools, hospitals, workplace, playground, everywhere.  The censorship the communists employed was shocking.

There was nothing democratic about the People’s Democracy.  Power corrupts, and once the commies gained power they became totally corrupt and bankrupt.  Slogans and speeches were the only thing that resembled their ideals.  Everything else they did was totally against it.  It became just a fight to stay in power.  The right today accuse those on the left of being socialists or communists.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The left realizes all the evils of communism.  There were no bigger enemies of the communists than the left liberals, and many real socialist movements.  Its because their ideals “appear” to be similar that they know them the best.  And as such the left realize communism’s true face, in all its vilest.  Communism is antidemocratic by nature.  If you dare to think differently than the Red Gods you automatically become the enemy.  They claim to have the good of the people at heart, therefore they will easily kill those same people because they know better.  I don’t know what was worst, the power hungry cynics who only said and did things to preserve themselves in power, or the fanatics who truly believed those lies.  In the end it did not really matter, they killed and oppressed with the same force.

The 21st Century Reds

Yes, its strange, but even though they are few in number, communists exist today.  They mostly are just some idealistic kids who see injustice in the world and whether through ignorance or revisionism, believe that the Red Gods can still save us.  In a way its admirable that there are people who see everyone as equals, that they want to end starvation, injustice, class differences, and oppression.  its great, and I am not being sarcastic when I say that.  Its just that communism never really did any of those things, and what’s worse, the Red Gods never really wanted to do all those things.  But today’s communists to not want to think about that, they want to think about the slogans, remember the nice speeches, and remind themselves of the evils of capitalism and oppression they suffer under their current rulers.  Once they achieve power it will be different this time.  Will it?  Somehow I doubt it.  And I have a good reason to doubt it.  Its happened every time the communists tried to bring the Red Paradise to everyone.  What we got instead was hell.  There is nothing just about forced redistribution of wealth, and guess what, the wealthy will not give up their status willingly.  So you will, once again call them the enemies of the people and slaughter them, and anyone who tried to defend them.  Justice?  I think not.  What if the people decide they do not want to produce end tables?  What if they want something else?  That was the problem with the communists, dissenters, no matter how justified, were classed as enemies of the state, and as such could be dealt with appropriately.  It was a throwback to forced conversions, “you can either be saved or we will kill you, we’re only doing this cause we love you so much.”  Thanks but no thanks, the dictatorship of the proletariat is as evil as any authoritarian regime was.   Here the commies are even worse than any religious fanatics.  The religious fanatics will actually allow for some dissent as long as it does not piss them off too much.  To the reds on the other hand, any dissent is high treason, it goes against the people!  Well its the people who are dissenting.  How can it!?

The question of private property is a strange one.  A normal state of affairs is of course that one works, one buys, one owns as the fruit of one’s labour.  Now of course private ownership and capitalism provide all kinds of ways for abuse.  However state ownership, or communal ownership is unnatural.  its simple.  Just as most red things are, this too goes against everything humans believe.  And no its not brainwashing and reactionary traditions.  In order for communism to work we would all truly have to be equal and have equal abilities.  But we are not.  And that is the problem.  The farmer who toils from sunrise to sunset will grow more than one who works half as much.  How can one ask both to reap the same rewards!  Of course the Reds will say that once they are in charge all will work as hard.  Well no, we wont!  Never have never will.  What will you do when we wont?  Kill all those who don’t carry their weight?  Will your explanation be as those who are religious?  Well god gave it and god can take it away?  The proletariat giveth and the proletariat taketh away?  Really?  Its the proletariat who were not working.  So for the good of the people the people will suffer again?  Sorry, it just does not make any sense.

I could make this a 10 part series, or 100 part series.  Nothing will change.  For all the Red good intentions they do not realize that we can not gain paradise on Earth.  Every time someone tried they miserably failed.  You too will fail, your system goes against human nature, freedom, and equality.  Instead of watching your respective dictators ruin your countries and dreaming how thing will be so much better when you are in charge why not do something useful and constructive for a change?  Why not work to make things a little better.  You can’t and wont make everyone equal, you can’t and wont make all of us happy.  Because I disagree.  And therefore by me disagreeing you would have to kill me or force me to do things I do not want.  And that my Red friends is not paradise.  A society is as good as its individuals.  And it serves to benefit its individuals as much as the individuals should serve their society.  Communism forgets half of that, and because they do they are against the people and enslave their people more than any evil capitalists do.

I may have been a tad hasty all the way back at the beginning of Episode 1 when I said I hate all Communists.  Not true.  I do not hate Michail Gorbachev.  He was the one who let this whole mess fail.  he told his Polish puppets to give the Polish Proletariat what it wanted, freedom and democracy.  And like good little servants they were, the Polish Communists did.  And Poland is so much better for it, and I thank Gorbachev for that.

Obama Wins The Nobel Peace Prize

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8298580.stm

Well that’s very nice, but what has president Obama done to deserve it?

I voted for the guy, rather reluctantly I must add to clarify.  But in the past year what has he done to promote world peace?  Is not being named George W. Bush enough for the prize committee?  Talking about peace is one thing, actually doing something is something else.  If he got it next year (after actually doing something worthwhile) then fine, congratulations.  But just being a charismatic leader who talks about cooperation is not enough in my humble opinion.

When Gore and Carter got their it was for years of promoting peace.  Obama has been on the national scene for barely a few years, on the international scene for less than two really.  Yes he opposed the war in Iraq, but so did millions of Americans, and even more people worldwide, so what makes president Obama so special?  The members talked about new spirit of cooperation.  Wonderful, I am all for engagement and cooperation.  But since being elected what has president Obama really done to deserve this honour?  I really can’t think of anything past a few nice speeches, some friendly handshakes and goodwill trips.  He is continuing the same policies president Bush had in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  Now this is not the place to say whether those policies are right or not, but I do not believe George Bush was considered for the prize.  American foreign policy, despite right wing paranoia, has not really changed so far.  As mentioned above, we are continuing on the same path as the previous administration had with fighting two wars.  We are still not ruling out using force against Iran should it prove necessary.  All over the world, other than nice words, we are doing the same things we were doing.  So what gives?

Honestly now.  What has changed?  I can’t thing of anything concrete.  For years I believed that the Literature and Peace Prizes did not go to the most deserving all the time, but they are given out when the Nobel committee wants to prove a point.  I like president Obama, I think he is a fine man and a good patriotic American.  But for the life of me I do not believe that out of over 6 billion people on this planet he did the most for peace.

The only answer I have is that he was awarded this for being the president of the United States while not being named George W. Bush.

Marek Edelman Remembered- “Wont You Shed a Tear?”

Marek Edelman

Marek Edelman

“Living proof,” “The Guard,” “Fighter,” “Hero.”

Just a few of the unofficial titles he was called.  I called him my hero.  Never met the man.  But for years he was an inspiration.  As a human being and a native Pole I consider him one of the greatest men of the 20th Century.  Certainly one of the greatest Poles of the last 100 years.  A social activist, a fighter, a doctor, a patriot, and man who wouldn’t take shit from anyone.  That was Marek Edelman.  My hero.

As I write this tears force themselves into my eyes.  Poland through the force of circumstance had some great men in the past 100 years, Karol Wojtyla known better as John Paul II, Jozef Pilsudski, Lech Walesa, Wladyslaw Sikorski.  In my opinion Marek Edelman is right among those distinguished men.  He died in Warsaw on Friday night, surrounded by friends .  At least his death was peaceful.  Because for most of his life Marek fought.  He fought the right wing gangs on the streets of pre-war Warsaw, he fought the Nazis, he fought death in the hospitals as a doctor, he fought the communists.  Marek never shied away from a fight.

Marek Edelman was born in 1922 in Homel (now in Belarus).  He was born into a Jewish socialist family.  When he was only a few years old he lost his father.  In the late 20’s his family moved to Warsaw.  There was a bit of controversy about his place of birth, as Marek Edelman for years kept insisting he was born in Warsaw.  There was a simple reason for that.  He was afraid of being forced to move to the Soviet Union as the Soviets considered anyone born in former territories (that USSR annexed after WWII) as a Soviet citizen.  At 12 young Marek also lost his mother, from then on he supported himself.

The Second World War game, and a brutal German occupation.  Warsaw Jews were forced to by the Germans into the Ghetto, where over a half a million people were crammed in inhumane conditions, dying daily of sickness and starvation.  The the Germans made their decision of what to do with Europe’s Jews.  Systematically the Ghetto was cleared out during 1942, the Jews were sent to death camps and there they were murdered.  At just 20 Marek Edelman was one of the founders of Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa (ZOB, Jewish Fighters Organization).  Those young Jews decided not to die quietly, but to fight and take a few Nazis with them.  They had no chance, numbering just over a thousand against the German military might, they were short of weapons, they were hardly trained.  But they fought.  When the Germans decided to empty out the Warsaw Ghetto, fight they did.  And they fought gallantly, the Germans losses were in the hundreds.  But they were bombed and burned out of their positions, house after house.  After Mordehai Amielewicz and his group of fighter committed suicide when they lost hope, the 21 year old Marek Edelman became the leader of the uprising.  Saved by Polish resistance he hid for over a year (“drinking vodka and making love” as he recalled it) in Warsaw, because with his looks he couldn’t go outside.  Finally on August 1st, 1944 the second Warsaw Rising took place.

Polish fighters, Warsaw 1944

Polish fighters, Warsaw 1944

When the Red Army approached Warsaw the Polish Armia Krajowa decided, as part of its overall nationwide plan, to rise up against the Germans in the capitol.  On August 1st Warsaw rose.  Marek Edelman immediately went out and joined the fight.  And for 2 months he fought heroically among other young kids to free Warsaw from the Nazi yoke.  He survived the Rising, and again hid till the Soviets came.

In 1946 he moved to Lodz, studied and became one of Poland’s leading cardiologists.  He married and had children.  He pioneered many methods in treating patients, and was able to save countless lives.  Unfortunately during 1968 there was an anti-Israeli movement in Communist Poland.  That quickly translated to an antisemitic movement.  Marek Edelman was fired from his job at a military hospital, as was his wife.  He was “encouraged” to leave Poland.  His wife and kids did, moving to France.  But Marek Edelman stayed, because “no one is going to tell me what I am supposed to do and where I should go.”  Pure Marek Edelman, always defiant, never taking shit from anyone, no matter the odds.

With backing from a party official he got another job.  In the 70’s he joined the Polish anti-communist resistance KOR.  Then joined the Solidarity movement.  Was arrested when the Jaruzelski regime introduced Martial Law in Poland in 1981.  He stayed in Solidarity in secret, till finally communism fell.  It was only then that he became properly recognized and respected, he received many honours from Polish and foreign governments.  But Marek Edelman’s fighting did not stop there.  In 1993 he was part of a humanitarian convoy trying to bring aid to Sarajevo.  That’s right, a 71 year old man left his comfy Poland and went to help needy Sarajevo.  He was an outspoken critic of any abusive regimes and fought for human rights all his life.

The smoking doctor

The smoking doctor

Marek Edelman is a rather controversial figure.  A socialist who hated communists.  A Jew who was anti-Zionist.  A Pole who was not always accepted by his country.  Never was one to shy away from controversy, always spoke his mind.  Never asked for pity, and always called things how he saw them.  When asked why he stayed after the war when most were either dead or were leaving he said:  “Someone had to stay with all these dead.”  He never shied away from calling people “idiots’ to their face.  And I loved him for it.  He never tried to make himself to seem more important.  He just was, how he was, who he was.  And in that he was perfect.

He said once when asked what is most important in life.

“Life itself is most important.  And when there is life, freedom is most important.  And then one gives up life for freedom and we don’t know what’s most important.”

That was Marek Edelman, my hero.

For a proper obituary do not be shy to search the internet as he should not be forgotten.

Also Hanna Krall’s books were translated from Polish, through them you will too get to know Marek a bit more.

May he rest in peace.

A great doctor, a great fighter, a great Jew, a great Pole, a great human being.

I will miss you.