Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Foreign Policy.

This is part 6 of a series concerning a briefing at the White House in Washington DC on Ethnic Day 2014

part I of the adventure is at:  dorucak na granici
part II is at: booooom
part III is: at White the House

Foreign Policy.  I promised to tell you about our "Ethnic Day" White House Briefing on Foreign Policy.

First the moderator wanted everyone who had been recording or filming the event to bring their equipment or devices forward to the podium. I supposed that was to erase their recordings because the next thing he told us was that everything being said was "off the record."  I noticed there was not a rush forward to the podium.  My camera was stuck back in a car because we couldn't have cameras with us for the White House tour.  I was a little disappointed in this because I had lugged the thing all the way to Washington D.C. just so I could video the proceedings as I was told I could.  Sigh.

Next we were introduced in rapid fire sequence to some young people whom we were told were  from the "NSA" which I take to be the National Security Adviser's office not to be confused with the National Security Agency which is engaged in signals intelligence, i.e. tapping your phone. The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs is a senior official in the Executive Office of the President who serves as chief advisor on national security issues.  The National Security Advisor participates in the National Security Council and is supported by the National Security Council staff which produces research, briefings, and intelligence for the National Security Advisor to review and present either to the National Security Council or directly to the President.  I believe our presenters then were actually from the National Security Council staff.

The first presenter was from the "Russian desk."  He carried on quite a while about Russia. Most of us in the room probably have a greater understanding of Russian history, Russian culture, Russian peoples, current Russian trends and events than this poor man had.  One of our group remarked that the man has probably never read Dostojevski in Russian.  My guess is that the fellow has never once read the Oče naš in Russian either much less prayed it in Russian or any Slavic language.  I can not remember if he knew the Winter Olympics were about to be in Sochi or not.  After a certain point in his presentation I was greatly under impressed.

So that was fun.  Next we were to hear from the "East European Desk." The young woman's high heeled boots and above the knee skirt as she crossed the stage earlier had seemed a little short of professional but she made up for that with her enthusiasm.  It was in that enthusiasm that I began to be overwhelmed with sheer terror.  She described Germany as East Europe.  Are the warning flags going up in your head yet?

She told how Germany was becoming stronger and stronger and that was a good thing she said for the region and for America.  She described how Austria and Slovenia were gradually coming under Germany's influence. In my mind I could hear the rumbling klank! klank! klank! of the German tanks as they were described to me by men I knew who had escaped ahead of them once before a lifetime ago.  I could hear the tromp! tromp! tromp! of columns of German soldiers moving south into South East Europe.  I know I was not alone in these emotions because I saw the leader of the Serbian delegation look back at us with a terrified "WTF" look on his face.

The little bit of Croatian I know is kind of an off brand 300 hundred year old brand of Missouri-Texas sort of Kajkavski mixed now with some modern Croatian. As a result it hasn't been just awfully difficult for me to communicate with my YouTube friends from just over the border in Slovenia where they speak something fairly close.  When I hear those tanks and when I hear those soldiers coming the hair on the back of my head rises.  This is too close for comfort.

A Young Bosanac man went to the microphone.  He asked what was the Administration's take on what was happening in Sarajevo.  It was obvious she did not know where or what a Sarajevo is much less anything about what was happening there.  The young man returned to his seat with a frustrated look on his face.  Remember - this is that Friday when the Archives were burned in Sarajevo and she did not know anything about it. We all knew.  Everybody in the room knew. Why didn't she know?

One of our group was at the microphone.  It was clear that the folk on the podium had not one clue about our concerns.  In fact, it quickly became clear that they did not know where East Europe is and they certainly had not a single clue about where is South East Europe.  There was no hope that they might know on what continent Croatia might be. 

Someone from the Polish delegation went to the microphone.  He had had enough already.  "Will all the Russian-Americans in the room please rise?" He asked. No one rose.  He asked all the German-Americans" to rise.  I saw no one rise.    "Will all the Polish-Americans please rise?" There was a ripple  across the auditorium as a mass of Polish people stood to their feet.  His point was that the presenters from the White House had totally missed the mark with their presentations. We didn't want to hear about Russians and we didn't want to hear about Germans who have had us in their sandwich for generations. We wanted to hear about us and the White House didn't even know who any of us are much less where our homelands are.  Soon the briefings were dismissed and we found our way outside into the street.

Lest anyone go away from my report thinking all this was a waste of time, let me tell you that I think what we experienced and what we learned is vitally important in several ways.   First, some of us Croatian-Americans had never met each other face to face before.  I had never met Nenad Bach or any of the others before this time.  Seeing each other for the first time in the flesh was a pleasure and we learned things about each other during our brief time together which  will enable us to work more effectively together in the future. Second, each of us met new people from the other hyphenated-Americans with  whom we will be working in the future on mutually important tasks.  One  cannot put a price on the value of these relationships either.  Third, we've learned what the White House does not know.  That is important. That is vitally important.  It explains for example why President Carter  was bombing Novosad  when the city was ruled by the local Democratic Opposition, which was against the regime in Belgrade.  He did not understand the make up, structure, and situation on the ground in South East Europe and he had no one to tell him the true story. 

It is vital to the interests of America and it is crucial to the interests of hyphenated-Americans to find a way somehow to begin to communicate with the White House concerning our various peoples and about the lands from which we have come. This is the task before us.  It is a huge task but for all of us both sides of our hyphenation will benefit greatly at any success we have.   This is a task we must to undertake, a task in which we must succeed and keep on succeeding. This is not about politics or even about which Administration is in the White House.  This is about us, all of us. 

do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

David Byler a.k.a. Canovals

5 ožujka 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment