THE AMERICAN movie "A Few Good Men" includes a memorable scene. After Tom Cruise screams "I want the truth", Jack Nicholson fires back - "You can't handle the truth!" This dialogue proves particularly relevant to today's Slovakia.
What groups are threatening state stability (as the prime minister suggested)? Who is tapping the phones of independent media and supposedly independent investigators? Why have top defence and security officials lost the prime minister's confidence? How can an official whose name has been linked to numerous corruption scandals represent Slovakia in an international institution?
Does mafia indeed control significant areas of public life, or is the interior minister lying when suggesting that? Is a future cabinet minister a criminal?
These are just some of the questions the Slovak public wants to see answered and the Slovak media are pretending to be trying to answer.
Few people have warned the public about just what would happen if, by some chance, the people received an answer. A clear, definite answer that could not be obscured or misinterpreted to mean something else.
The nature of these questions is such that in almost all cases, whatever the truth, it will not be easy to swallow. But what if the worst possibility imaginable was the correct answer in each case?
The mafia has infiltrated state structures. Government officials are corrupt. Secret services are being exploited for the purposes of different interest groups. The head of the National Security Office can't be trusted. People are manipulated by some corrupt media. Administration members are criminals...
What if these suddenly proved to be the correct answers?
The West would have a very hard time turning a blind eye to Slovakia's ongoing domestic problems. And Slovaks themselves would have to face the dilemma of either openly admitting that years of Slovak-style democracy have left them completely ignorant of what happens with it, or taking action.
But again, the problem of what action to take is also not one that could easily be solved. One man, or possibly several, can easily be replaced. With an entire administration, the task seems more challenging. If you add the opposition, with its colourful past, a solution seems impossible.
Experience with "new" parties shows these tend to be worse and more eager to satisfy their thirst for power than the well-established ones. Besides, it is getting more and more difficult to find new faces. And most of the old ones have been recycled too many times.
Perhaps Slovak politicians should be more careful in presenting new questions to the Slovak public, because what if the truth is revealed? One thing is certain: it will be very difficult to handle.
22. Sep 2003 at 0:00