(Reuters) – Days before he was taken prisoner, the German colonel who leads the team of European observers being held by separatist gunmen in eastern Ukraine described his technique for working in dangerous hotspots.
“In a moment when the situation gets tense I back off,” Colonel Axel Schneider told a Reuters reporter in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk on Tuesday, when asked about the challenges of operating near the flashpoint city of Slaviansk.
“I don’t wear a helmet, I don’t wear a flak vest,” he said.
“I am here with my arms open and a smile on my face.”
Schneider’s approach did not work on Friday, when the bus carrying him and his seven fellow observers was boarded by pro-Russian militiamen at a checkpoint on the edge of Slaviansk, in eastern Ukraine.
On Sunday, after three days being detained on suspicion of being NATO spies – including one night spent in a cellar – Schneider and his colleagues were paraded by their captors at a news conference in Slaviansk’s city administration building.
Schneider, wearing a plaid button-down shirt, looked tense but was calm and deliberate as he said he and his group had not been harmed and were in good health, and were anxious to go back to their home countries.
As he spoke, guards in camouflage fatigues and balaclavas, carrying Kalashnikov rifles walked around the room. Later, Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier described as “revolting” the scene of the prisoners being paraded in public…
* * *
There it is. In this single incident and in this German officer’s words, we have a perfect metaphor for the entire spectacle of the West collapsing before terrorists, unfriendly nations, on-rushing swarms of unwanted migrants and criminals in our midst.
Smile. Be nice to people and they will be nice to you. The promise of the leftists to one degree or other since the end of World War II.
Sure, we kept a strong front against the Soviets for another fifty years, but we were surrendering on many other fronts. Mass immigration that has now degenerated into de facto open borders in the USA. Human rights are now of concern only to criminals and unwanted migrants.
And now, we cannot even stand up to Russia. True, we do not need to necessarily become confrontational with Russia. That may not be the best course.
But so far, we have been confrontational and backed it up with smiling colonels who don’t wear flak jackets in hostile territory.
That won’t work. Not with Russia or anyone else. Keep this up and collapse is inevitable.