Waiting for Princip

 

I exchanged a few words on Facebook last night with an expatriate friend in Estonia, who described the mood there: “All the expats I know are gloomy,” he wrote, ‘like its 1938, all over again. Call it “Waiting for Princip.”‘

That’s certainly my mood, too. Other expats here sense it as well–as one journalist wrote yesterday, “Too much going on with Kurds in Turkey at the moment. Walks for end of isolation of Öcalan, I hear. Forbidden. I see trouble coming.”

We’re all worried about civil war in Syria. It goes without saying that the situation in Egypt is desperately unstable. Iran has threatened Turkey because it has accepted the NATO missile shield. Turkey has deployed frigates and choppers to the Eastern Mediterranean. If Iran cuts off the gas–which it has done in the past–people here will be cold this winter. There’s no way Turkey will be spared the impact of the global economic crisis. We’re just waiting for it to hit hard. 

I asked my friend in Estonia whether he thought expats, in particular, were seized with apprehensive dread. “Don’t know,” he wrote, “but it seems universal among my peeps. It’s worse than ’07, when we were seriously worried about a Russian invasion; discussions were held about how best to evacuate. … Princip is going to shoot someone. You just don’t know who and where … 

“My Princip has been fixated on the inpending meltdown of the Euro, compounded by my trip back to the States in January. That’s not the same country I left. I feel like war is coming … or economic disaster, and I’d just like it to get kicked off, so I can reorient. It’s like a pregnancy after eight months. That’s a sad, pathetic, statement. Wishing for war. But hey, it seems like a year for dark thoughts. And I’m not alone in that.”

I’d rather live forever with the dread than see it “get kicked off.” I don’t know whether the dread is exaggerated; I hope we’ll look back on it and think we were unduly apprehensive. But I certainly feel it–something bad is coming. 

The situation of our timeSurrounds us like a baffling crime.There lies the body half-undressedWe all had reason to detest.And all are suspects and involvedUntil the mystery is solved.And under lock and key the causeThat makes a nonsense of our laws …

How did a snake get in the tower?Delayed in the democraciesBy departmental vanities, The rival sergeants run aboutBut more to squabble than find out.

I wonder if expats are more likely to feel dread because generally, expats are more likely to be the grandchildren of exiles? Because we know that history in a deeper way than most people do? 

Or perhaps, as he said, it’s because we’ve gone home recently and seen that it really isn’t the country we left anymore? 

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There are 20 comments.

  1. Diane Ellis Contributor

    How strange that this is the second time in less than a week that I’ve heard someone express their anxiety using the same phrase. Guess that’s one indication that the sentiment is widespread.

    Here’s Mike Malone on Ricochet last week: “Waiting for Princip”

    • #1
    • October 10, 2011, at 7:47 AM PDT
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  2. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author

    Yes … I thought so, too.

    • #2
    • October 10, 2011, at 7:59 AM PDT
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  3. Mel Foil Inactive

    We all have a few hundred-thousand years of evolution behind us, honing our danger instincts, letting us know when tension is increasing and violence is in the air. But, few of us ever listen to our instincts anymore. We have CNN and the BBC. Who needs instincts?

    • #3
    • October 10, 2011, at 8:16 AM PDT
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  4. WI Con Member

    My guess is an economic meltdown/dark ages kind of thing. Nearly everyone (in the West) is too broke and we don’t have the faith or confidence in our respective cultures or nations to fight for them.

    There will be regional bully states: Iran, Russia, N.Korea, China, Pakistan. Not certain how they finance their agression if the Western economies contract heavily.

    • #4
    • October 10, 2011, at 8:39 AM PDT
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  5. Anon Inactive

    The question is, could any or all of this have been prevented if Obama wasn’t president? I believe his widely understood antipathy to American exceptionalism weakened America’s global influence, and opened the floodgates. The “Arab Street,” and now others have taken his measure.

    • #5
    • October 10, 2011, at 8:42 AM PDT
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  6. liberal jim Inactive

    Strange how perceptions change with mood; a few months ago the outbreak of the “Arab Spring” was met with almost giddiness now it has become “civil war in Syria” and” instability in Egypt”. Replacing tyranny often entails war and if Egypt is more unstable it is only marginally so. I agree that the mood of the world has changed for the worse, but would suggest it may be as much a cause of the events and as a result of them. The angst may well be a reaction to years of overly optimistic sentiment that was characterized by the tech bubble, housing bubble etc. I think you’re correct there is more to come.

    • #6
    • October 10, 2011, at 8:46 AM PDT
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  7. liberal jim Inactive
    Anon: The question is, could any or all of this have been prevented if Obama wasn’t president? I believe his widely understood antipathy to American exceptionalism weakened America’s global influence, and opened the floodgates. The “Arab Street,” and now others have taken his measure. · Oct 10 at 8:42am

    Obama has contributed to the problems, but I think only marginally so. Bush did the same, but to a lesser degree. I think what is going on is a monumental change that may well prove more significant than what occurred in the 30’s. Hopefully it will be in the opposite direction, but probably will be as painful if not more painful.

    • #7
    • October 10, 2011, at 8:55 AM PDT
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  8. Charles Gordon Inactive
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.

    […] and seen that it really isn’t the country we left anymore? ·

    When one stays away long enough, no country is the same anymore. When anyone is anywhere long enough, nothing remains the same anymore.

    The question of what could one have done to keep things the same occurs more often to those who stayed away than to those who never left, because the answer is obvious by virtue of their having stayed put: Nothing.

    The yearning for power over that which one has no control slyly introduces itself into the psyche of those doing less than they should over that which they do.

    We all use the power we have. When we feel powerless, sometimes, some powers we don’t have; sometimes it is a powerful excuse for not doing what we should.

    We all have power over our character: Doing the right thing when no one is looking, choosing the harder right than the easier wrong, suffering pain when pain is due, summoning strength and courage and scorning despair, fighting acedia and accepting the fight we choose, pursuing it to its end, while reaching above the common level of life. Both at home and abroad.

    • #8
    • October 10, 2011, at 9:17 AM PDT
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  9. TerryW Inactive

    Hey, PEOPLE! BUCK UP out there!! You are AMERICANS and are protected by the best trained, most technicially proficient military in the whole freakin’ world. I know because my son is one of those soldiers and if things get too funky out there we can ” put a hurt” on those flakey muslims, Russians or who ever starts to stir things up. Of course we may have to pull a few other patriots into the mix (i.e a DRAFT) and probably pave over a lot of the middle east (and that is really no big loss) but Obama is out in a year and hopefully, a red blooded American will take charge and then just set back and watch things change…for the better!

    • #9
    • October 10, 2011, at 9:56 AM PDT
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  10. Steven Zoraster Inactive

    It is not 1938. Everyone knows the cause of that problem. No, it will be something completely unexpected.

    And most of the unexpected dark deeds will have no consequences. I repeat myself: Black Swans.

    • #10
    • October 10, 2011, at 10:02 AM PDT
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  11. Fredösphere Member

    Not to pile on or anything, but it’s worth remembering the lesson of history, which is that Princip wanted independence for Yugoslavia, and he got it.

    • #11
    • October 10, 2011, at 10:08 AM PDT
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  12. Instugator Thatcher

    1938 and Princip? – your friend is mixing metaphors at best, confusing history at worst. Pick one.

    • #12
    • October 10, 2011, at 10:11 AM PDT
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  13. TeamAmerica Member

    Claire-By expatriates, I assume you mean Americans in Estonia, not Turks in Estonia. Correct?

    I too have a sense of foreboding. China is now what pre-WWI Prussia was-i.e., not a nation that has a military, but a military that has a nation. Russia has announced a spending increase of approx. $68 billion, while Obama has been cutting our military. Given an Obama re-election, a resulting persistently weak economy with consequently lower tax receipts, and people’s desire for entitlements, I’d expect more willingness to cut defense spending. This is what Britain did in the 1920-1937 period, AFAIK. Therefore, over the next 5-10 years, the odds of a major war, or at least large regional wars, with their concomitant economic damage, are rising.

    • #13
    • October 10, 2011, at 10:34 AM PDT
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  14. BlueAnt Member

    It’s worth noting that Princip’s action snowballed in large part because of a pre-existing set of alliances and treaties. Without that specific level of inter-connectivity, a single assassination or local war would not have escalated so dramatically.

    So where are the dangerous but fragile links that have everyone so worried this time? Even if one or several Middle Eastern countries break into outright war in the midst of an Arab Spring uprising, what connections do they share that would trigger a larger conflict?

    (I can only think of two major connective systems at risk of a damaging Black Swan effect: the Euro, and the Internet itself. But then again, the nature of Black Swan events is that almost no one anticipates them.)

    • #14
    • October 10, 2011, at 11:06 AM PDT
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  15. Doctor Bean Thatcher

    Well, that does it. I’m going to go drown myself in the toilet.

    • #15
    • October 10, 2011, at 11:27 AM PDT
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  16. Doctor Bean Thatcher

    PS: Terrific poem. Who wrote it?

    • #16
    • October 10, 2011, at 11:28 AM PDT
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  17. Southern Pessimist Member
    BlueAnt: So where are the dangerous but fragile links that have everyone so worried this time? Even if one or several Middle Eastern countries break into outright war in the midst of an Arab Spring uprising, what connections do they share that would trigger a larger conflict?

    If Israel is not the fragile link, it is in an increasingly fragile position.

    • #17
    • October 11, 2011, at 1:45 AM PDT
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  18. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author
    Doctor Bean: PS: Terrific poem. Who wrote it? · Oct 10 at 11:28am

    Auden.

    • #18
    • October 11, 2011, at 2:22 AM PDT
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  19. lakelylane Inactive

    Our visit to the toilet drowning pool doesn’t quite express my dread..

    • #19
    • October 11, 2011, at 5:47 AM PDT
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  20. lakelylane Inactive

    Our visit to the toilet drowning pool doesn’t quite express my dread..

    • #20
    • October 11, 2011, at 5:47 AM PDT
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