Randy Wren/U.S. Army
World News /20 May 2016
05.20.16

Who Will Secure Lithuania?

The term “security” is multifaceted. But today’s geopolitics forces us to think about the military aspects above all.

Our attention is completely absorbed by news about wars, conflicts, military exercises and increasing defense capabilities. An average European reader cannot avoid this kind of news while looking through the news feeds of popular media.

Even planned further militarization of the European region and Russia pose a real threat today. A whole generation of European children is growing in the firm belief that war is approaching. We destroy ourselves by our fears. We notice everything concerning military issues and neglect the economic and social components of our lives. We live in a changed world and we are to blame for it.

Take Lithuania as an example. This small country with a rich history and kind and open people over the last few weeks has become the center of world attention mainly in connection with military affairs: rotational U.S. Army troops arrival, participating in NATO drills, United States F-22 Raptor stealth aircraft’s landing in Lithuania at Šiauliai Airbase and so on.

One can conclude that the only serious problem of Lithuania’ s security is its weak national defense capabilities. This opinion is purposely suggested by national media and by international journalists and the government actively supports shaping such public views by giving interviews and showing off military vehicles, aircraft and equipment.

Few people think about the purposes of such a PR campaign. This one-sided approach to the security of the state raises questions. Attracting attention to the military aspect of security will not help the authorities to secure the country. Hungry and angry people may become a force that can turn everything upside down. There are a lot of problems concerning Lithuania’s security in energy, economic and demographic spheres today that are not priorities for the government. Unfortunately, during the pre-election period the authorities did their best to divert the attention of people from social problems to more “global” ones. They successfully exploit the Motherland’s defenders image instead of reporting on domestic policy where they were not successful.

The failures in domestic policy are more than obvious. According to statistics, Lithuania today is one of the poorest nations in the EU. The catastrophic situation is in the field of education. Low Lithuanian teachers’ salaries cause them to strike. The situation in Lithuanian retail centers where a liter of milk costs less than a liter of water is absolutely absurd! The minimum wage in Lithuania is only $350 per month. That is the lowest level among the Baltic States. Lithuanian trade unions stage protest actions to demand better working conditions.

According to statistics, the youth unemployment rate in Lithuania in March was 14.10 percent. Young people continue to leave Lithuania in search of a better life.

At the same time the government is ready to welcome about 1,000 NATO troops. On one hand there is nothing bad in additional military aid. On the other – the country doesn’t have spare money for accommodating foreign soldiers. Such steps pose a serious financial burden on a host nation. Can citizens afford to maintain the foreign army while they cannot afford to cover their own living expenses?

Deterioration of living conditions is particularly evident among ordinary citizens. Public revolt against food prices have increased in Lithuania over the last few days and is an indicator of growing dissatisfaction with the domestic policy of the Lithuanian authorities who act as if nothing has happened and try not to notice the approaching social “thunderstorm.” It may happen that the “social explosion” will occur before any Russian attack. Lithuanians need not only military security, but confidence and security in their domestic future. They should trust government, be sure that the authorities respond to their needs and actively participate in election campaigns.

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