Who will secure Lithuania?
The term "security" is a very multifaceted one, but today’s geopolitical situation forces us to think about its military aspect above all.
Our attention is completely absorbed by news about wars, conflicts, military exercises and increasing defense capabilities. The average European reader has no chance of avoiding or skipping over this kind of news when browsing through news feeds and popular media.
The planned further militarization of the European region and Russia pose a real threat today. A whole generation of European children is growing up with the firm belief that war is approaching. We are destroying ourselves with our fears. We pay attention to everything concerning the military while neglecting the economic and social sides of life. We are living in changing world and we are to blame.
Let's take Lithuania as an example. This small country with a rich history and immensely kind and open people has in the last few weeks fallen into the center of world attention in connection with military affairs, such as the rotation of the US Army’s arrival, participation in NATO drills, the landing of the US F-22 Raptor stealth aircraft at Lithuania’s Šiauliai airbase, and so on and so forth.
One could draw the conclusion that the only serious problem facing Lithuania' s security is its own weak national defense capabilities. Indeed, this opinion is purposely formed by national media and by international journalists. The government actively supports such views by giving interviews and showing off military vehicles, aircraft, and equipment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayHW-Q8dcNw).
Yet 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 alone will not help authorities guarantee the country’s security. Hungry and angry people can 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 considered priorities by the government. Unfortunately, during the pre-election period the authorities do their best to divert the attention of people from social problems to more "global" ones. They successfully exploit the image of “the Motherland's defenders” instead of reporting on domestic policy, where they have not had any such “successes”.
The failures in domestic policy are more than obvious. According to statistics, Lithuania today is one of the poorest nations in the EU. A catastrophic situation prevails in the field of education, where low salaries have brought Lithuanian teachers 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 euros per month, the lowest level among the Baltic States, and Lithuanian trade unions have been compelled to stage protest actions to demand better working conditions.
What’s more, according to statistics, the youth unemployment rate in Lithuania in March was 14.10 percent. Young people are continuing to leave Lithuania in search of a better life.
In the midst of all of this, the government is ready to welcome about 1000 NATO troops. On the one hand, there is nothing bad in additional military aid. On the other, the country does not have spare money for accommodating foreign soldiers. Such steps pose a serious financial burden upon the host nation. Do citizens really think they can afford maintaining a foreign army when there are shortfalls in covering their own living expenses?
The deterioration of living conditions is particularly evident among ordinary citizens. The public revolt against increases in food prices in Lithuania over the past few days is an indicator of growing dissatisfaction with the domestic policy of the Lithuanian authorities, who try not to notice the social “thunderstorm” approaching as if nothing has happened. It might just so turn out that a “social explosion” will erupt earlier than any expected attack by Russia. Lithuanians need confidence in the future, food, and demographic security just as much as a feeling of military security. They should have a government worth trusting and authorities who consider them, their needs, and their desires. Only in such a case will Lithuanians actively participate in election campaigns and respect their parliament and leaders. It is still unclear who will protect Lithuania, but it is obvious that those who are currently obliged to are not.