Academic journal article Trames

Ivan at the Gates!-Armed Conflict in Ukraine and the Moral Panic in Poland?

Academic journal article Trames

Ivan at the Gates!-Armed Conflict in Ukraine and the Moral Panic in Poland?

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

At the very start of considering the notion of moral panic there appears the issue of its sources and the reasons why Polish people started to be afraid--fear appeared when they were surprised at the armed conflict in Ukraine--as the result of a lack of vigilance of Poland itself and of NATO structures. In the face of the conflict, common and uncritical faith in peace in the Middle-East Europe turned out to be a Utopian perspective, and prioritizing fighting the terrorism there did not seem entirely right or justified. The voices, until recently claiming that Poland's priority is mainly to fulfill its duties of the treaties, usually abroad, and that the activities of the armed forces ought to follow the rules of an expedition realized within peacemaking or stabilization operations, unveiled the weaknesses of the defense system of the country, thus pressing the citizens to form their own opinion on potential war taking place in their homeland and express their reaction to such threat, even if only a potential one.

Such weakness, as many seem to perceive the newly evoked threat in the area that seemed completely free of the fear or possibility of an armed conflict, has many reasons. What is more, the most important of them derives from the situation where bi-polar power balance in the world has been destroyed, and also, from the common peace euphoria that has been proclaimed by politicians, scientists and business people. When the Iron Curtain disappeared, it evoked Utopian words Henry Ford said after World War I: "People are becoming too intelligent ever to have another big war" (Bodziany 2010:89). Was this right? Surely not, especially when taking into consideration the fact that from 1990 to 2000 there were 41 local and regional conflicts, and just in 1997 there were as many as 19 such conflicts (Bodziany 2014:7).

Despite clear signs that the worldwide peace is not such an obvious issue, nobody had predicted that near the Polish border, in Ukraine, there the conflict of new character would begin. Although certain safety perception paradigm collapsed, the problem became difficult to solve as it refused to fit any known, or commonly used, definitions. There is some paradox in such situation, as in the light of international law, there is no conflict--neither Russia nor Ukraine proclaimed war. Nonetheless, the conflict is a fact and it is commonly called a hybrid one. It is dangerous to be in some sort of political fiction, dominated by the game of pretenses and propaganda, and lies Russia tells. What is important is characterized by the lack of clear directions for development and for its borders. Such state describes it as the conflict of 'new dimension', and this, in consequence, due to the lack of precedent as far as the possibilities to solve it are concerned, evokes understandable fear and the feeling of dread perceived by many.

The raised issues make us consider the activities designed to prepare the Polish Armed Forces for war, activities which are accompanied by widespread actions to overcome the neglects as far as structures optimization and armament modernization and equipping of Polish Armed Forces are concerned.

Many times such actions have been reckless and sometimes even convulsive--especially when they concern military equipment purchasing. The Army modernization, apart from the sudden strengthening of the Polish eastern border, did not escape the notice of the public; thus, people reacted to the 'media buzz' instinctively--they were afraid to be faced with the threat of conflict. Media discourse on the state of the Polish Army was strengthened with the experts' and politicians' opinions, plenty of which were on Internet portals and TV programs in 2014. Although many times the opinions were presented by doubtful or self-appointed so-called experts, they strongly influenced public opinion and increased the level of fear, mostly due to the way such opinions were presented, copied and circulated. …

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