Decades of Communist destruction of society has left its marks in Poland. East Germany had the West to help it recover, but Poles had to catch up by themselves. As of 2014, its GNI per capita of $24,710 was roughly the same as Russia’s and Hungary’s, but behind the Czech Republic’s $28,020 and just over half of Germany’s $46,850. Crossing from Gorlitz into Zgorzelec, I could immediately see the differences between the two nations. The Polish buildings were in poorer shape, the shops were homelier and there were many fewer places to eat and drink. Almost none had a menu outside to attract clients. Even the service was different.
There's No Going Back, But Poland's Transition to a Market Economy Did not Come Without a Human Cost
When the Russia Analyst visited Poland, a country to which we have some very distant ethnic ties (though our ancestors were more Prussian or Wendish, that is Slavs who Germanicized during the Middle Ages), we saw many of the same things Dinh observed. The people are some of the most polite and pro-American you will find in Europe. Almost everyone either has a relative in America or knows someone who does. But the central European country's transition to EU membership has not come without cost. Once outside of the touristy areas in Warsaw and Krakow in particular, you see far less young people than in the largest cities.
As is typical for Slavic countries, families that do stay together often live with three generations under the same roof. According to one middle aged Polish cleaning lady we spoke with in Chicago, her family is paying gas and electric bills even higher than what she pays for her south side house, even though Polish salaries are three times lower than for comparable 'blue collar' jobs in the U.S. (nationalists blame the high energy costs in part on the dereliction of Poland's struggling coal industry). In the parts of Poland closer to Germany, we saw that the Ukrainian prostitutes were lined up with one standing every 50 meters or so along the highway, ready to be picked up by customers. In that and many other cases, Ukrainians are doing the jobs Poles don't want to do, with hundreds of thousands coming in since the start of the Ukrainian civil war in 2014.
Even Poles Who Live and Work Abroad Voted in Significant Numbers for a More Nationalistic, Inward Focused Government
Millions of young Poles work abroad, mostly in Germany, France, and the UK, and send remittances to relatives back home. Small towns and villages are gradually depopulating, though not as rapidly as say across the border in Ukraine or in much of Russia during the 1990s. It is the people of this more rural, Roman Catholic conservative part of Poland who voted overwhelmingly for the new nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government. Many people in the diaspora also voted for PiS, as the only Polish election signs we saw in Chicago last year were all for the PiS candidate Andrzej Duda.
Linh Dinh recognizes this rising nationalist, identitarian movement in Poland, in writing about a rally held last November led by a young Catholic priest:
Last November 15th, Poland’s Independence Day, a young priest, Jacek Miedlar, bellowed out a fierce speech to a flag waving crowd in Warsaw. Miedlar began, “Dearly beloved, the enemies of the homeland and the enemies of the Church are furious today because they see a huge, enormous army of patriots, army of nationalists, and army of supporters who have ‘God, Honor, and Fatherland’ in their hearts and are ready to give their lives for them. But I am more than convinced that leftist propaganda is trying its best to destroy us, to destroy the Church, to destroy the Polish nation. We cannot let them do it. We are the Church Militant. We are the warriors of Great Poland. They aren’t even aware that the more they attack us, the more our pride grows!”
Is this paranoia? How besieged is Poland, really? It seems to me that what threatens Poland also endangers many other countries, and that’s the subjugation of local needs to a master scheme cooked up far away by an elite that owe no allegiance to any nation. Going after immediate benefits, Poland risks long term damage. To avert disaster, it will need to stop supporting Uncle Sam’s belligerence, appeasing Brussels and antagonizing the Kremlin.
Poles Discover Being a Staunch NATO Ally Doesn't Insulate a Country from the New World Order's Open Borders Demands
Poland's new government led by President Andrzej Duda is encountering the same sort of criticisms from Germany and the EU over alleged violation of European Union democratic norms as Hungary's Fidesz-Civic Alliance ruling coalition. This is happening even though Poland is probably the staunchest NATO ally the U.S. has in Europe. Despite Poland's media and politicians taking a back seat to no one when it comes to criticizing Russia, EU criticisms over PiS alleged crackdown on press freedoms in state funded media and bloodless purge of opposition Civic Platform loyalists from various ministries keeps coming. And it's not hard for many Polish patriots to imagine why -- because they are refusing to take in thousands of refugees as demanded by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's approach of putting fences around his country to keep out the immi-destabilization Germany's Chancellor welcomed has been grudgingly vindicated in the mainstream Euro-Atlanticist press. The Hungarians who were slammed in the slavishly Atlanticist press as fascists with a soft spot for the Kremlin now look far-sighted. The Poles who similarly rejected taking in thousands of Muslim or Third World asylum seekers on Roman Catholic nationalist grounds can now tell the Germans, "We told you so". In the wake of the backlash against New Year's sexual assaults committed by the newcomers across Germany, as well as the migrant crime wave hitting Sweden's largest cities, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia all appear vindicated for rejecting a large influx of young Muslim males.
The Visegrad, united at the ramparts: policemen from Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary patrol the Hungarian border fence
A Polish Military Build-Up for Defense Against Russia... or a National Guard to Act in Case of Immi-vasion Related Civil Unrest in Neighboring Countries?
Lurking in the background behind these immediate, pressing issues of border controls and countering rising Islamism and the related socio-economic destabilization of the Continent from the globalists' volkswanderung are fundamental matters of national destiny. Namely, what happens after the European Union comes apart, and like NATO, basically exists more on paper than as a functioning institution? What did Roman Britons do when it became evident that Rome was corrupt, decadent, and far away, while the barbarians were near, and they had to look after their own defenses with the legions departing Londonium for home in the late 4th century A.D.?
Sure, there are Polish aspirations to replace Germany (and to some extent declining Great Britain) as Washington's top NATO military partner in Europe. But as Southfront.org accurately reported in late 2015, placing U.S. nuclear gravity bombs on Polish soil and giving Poland's air force access to them under a NATO program would not do much to alter the global balance of power. Nor do the Poles have the abundant resources needed to fund their shopping spree for new American hardware, including Patriot missiles, that the Atlanticists want but other Europeans refuse to buy.
Nonetheless, in a general war, NATO nuclear weapons depots on Polish soil would prove even more vulnerable to hypersonic Russian weapons like the Iskander ballistic rockets in Kaliningrad than the older Cold War facilities were in 1980s West Germany. And that's assuming the incoming Russian missiles would only be conventional, and not nuclear tipped, as called for in Russia's published defense doctrine. Perhaps this is why the Obama Administration and the British recently disappointed Duda's government by rejecting his calls for the permanent stationing of NATO troops numbering in the thousands at Polish bases.
Although in the present Cold War 2.0 climate it's rare for military logic to trump hysterical posturing about the threat of imminent 'Russian aggression', this time realpolitik prevailed. Someone in the Pentagon may have recognized that putting thousands of GIs and a few hundred Germans and Tommies on a permanent footing in Poland would only bolster Moscow's (somewhat true) narrative of NATO encirclement, while doing very little for Poland's security. Besides that, the U.S. and UK are broke, and Germany might need the Bundeswehr to defend its own borders from immi-vasion soon. Thus the immi-destabilization of Europe undermines the American Narrative that only Washington as the indispensable nation can defend Europe's borders from aggression, as even the most Russophobic nationalists in Europe have to admit it's not Russian invaders but young Muslim males groping and committing crimes across the Continent.
The Limits of War Hysteria and Playing the Russian Card in Polish Politics
While Poland is more than capable of building a few indigenous nukes for deterrence within months, or at least over several years, Russia has no interest in once again lording over Polish or Baltic lands or peoples. Not even populist imperialists like Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who in the past has mused about preemptive Russian nuclear strikes against NATO and demanding the return of Alaska, or Alexander Dugin want to restore Russia's 19th century imperial border that ran through Poland. For what reason, if the goal of the Duginists is to build a strong empire, would they try to subject peoples who would refuse to Russify under any circumstances? While many Russians regard Poles as inveterate Russophobes, the vast majority of Russians either have a favorable view of Poles as fellow Slavs or no opinion at all about the Poles. The massacre of over 100,000 Polish civilians by the UPA Banderites during World War II is a frequent theme of Russian and Donetsk People's Republic talking points.
The issue isn't what Russia is going to do related to Poland or NATO (besides watch the Atlantic Alliance collapse like the late Warsaw Pact, though more slowly). The heart of the matter is what Warsaw's elites actually want. That is, what are Polish aspirations beyond winning some dollars for depopulating towns that would come with permanent U.S. military bases in their country (not to mention a few GIs who would, as I've joked with my Polish friends, 'make good mail order husbands for some lonely Polish brides')?
The new Law and Justice government's objectives clearly don't involve Polish troops going back to open ended commitments in the greater Middle East, where they served and took scores of casualties as part of U.S.-led coalitions occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. Certainly, the Polish army is more than capable of defending the nation's borders from roving bands of Third World invaders, as well as securing the long border with an economically imploding Ukraine.
Answering the 'think bigger' question of Poland's future, as foretold by none other than Stratfor CEO George Friedman back in the early 2000s, requires stepping deeper into the past. And that involves recalling, as the Jewish American thinker Friedman does, that before it was a 'Christ between two thieves' being carved up in the 18th century and occupied in the 20th by its more powerful German and Russian neighbors, Poland also was an empire. A Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth which 400 years ago was the largest state in Europe, and included much of present day Ukraine, Belarus, and western Russia stretching all the way to Smolensk (and briefly, during the 'Time of Troubles', occupying Moscow itself). The Russia Analyst's father in law has traced his genealogy to Polish/Belorussian merchant ancestors who intermarried with the Rus of great Novgorod, the fortress city and trade hub along the ancient Viking trade route from the Baltic down to Kiev and the Black Sea.
Poland's Imperial History and Aspirations to Act as a Guiding Power for Ukraine
Between the fateful triangle of Austria, Hungary and Poland, all three nations possess long suppressed imperial histories. These imperial memories have been obscured by all the talk of the evil new Stalin's determination to restore the Soviet if not Russian Empires, and to a lesser extent, criticism of Sultan Erdoğan's failed neo-Ottoman ambitions. But they still exist, and could be reactivated to serve a more benign role than in past centuries. As Russia has proven with its approach to the post Soviet space, borders do not have to formally change for a country to exercise hegemony in its immediate neighborhood via economics or handing out passports to anyone who wants them. Nor is post Communist demographic decline irreversible.
While the number of Ukrainians who identify as Polish is rather small due to the ethnic cleansing that ended World War II in the Galicia/Volyn region, we could see more Ukrainians 'Polonizing' via intermarriage or permanently settling in Poland over the next few years. Poland already issues border ID cards to Ukrainian nationals, and it is not a stretch to suggest it will start issuing more passports as Hungary has done for ethnic Hungarians in TransCarpathia. These are long term projects that could bring nationalists in Poland and Hungary together as they seek solutions to the lawlessness and economic collapse that many pro-Western Ukrainians are suffering far from Russia and the Donbass war's front lines.
Visegrad -- the real Intermariumalliance that is already emerging for a Europe after the American dollar/EUSSR empires crumble...
Back to the Future and a Polish-Lithuanian-Hapsburg Commonwealth: Building a Visegrad Coalition with Austria-Hungary
Given shared history as well as a common set of EUrocrat adversaries in Brussels, it's not surprising that the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently met with his Polish counterpart and friend Jaroslaw Kaczynski on a "private" visit. What Southfront.org and Russia's Regnum news agency found important is that this "unofficial" meeting lasted six hours, and the press was not invited. Perhaps because the two men had a very candid discussion about their common adversaries in the EU, and how to stand up against German (read: Soros and Atlanticist backed) bullying regarding refugee 'burden sharing' within the European Union.
Extended excerpts from an important but likely to be overlooked Southfront.org articles follow:
IA Regnum wrote in February 2015 about how on the eve of his visit to Warsaw, Hungary’s PM said that the EU is deeply divided when it comes to Russia. On the one hand there are Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria: “we believe that we won’t be able to achieve our aims without cooperation with Russia.” And on the other hand there are the Baltics, Poland, and the United States: “Russia must be pushed out of cooperative projects with the EU.” Orban also criticized Angela Merkel’s protege, the European Council chairman Donald Tusk. At the same time, PiS blamed his “old friend” Orban in “acting against EU’s unity concerning its relations with Russia.”
Warsaw’s main front was then in the East. But today the new Polish government is having to defend itself against attacks coming from the West. Berlin means business and intends to attack PiS not only in Brussels. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that the Bundestag ruling coalition is considering introducing sanctions against the “conservative government” in Poland which is “violating the principle of rule of law, separation of powers, and freedom of the press.”
The parliamentary coalition leader and Merkel’s “right hand” Volker Kauder announced that in the event of “violations of European values, EU member-states ought to have courage to introduce sanctions.” Orban is staunchly against anything of the sort. Hungary’s PM publicly stated Budapest would never allow the EU to punish Poland. That’s not a mere gesture but rather a demonstration of Budapest’s adopted political course. The Austrian paper Der Standard notes that Orban is at the head of “an axis of EU’s national states.” It believes that the governments of Poland, Hungary, and Great Britain are trying to slow down European integration. Budapest together with Poland and two other Vyshegrad Group countries, Czech Republic and Slovakia, are becoming a strong alliance whose objective is to strengthen “national politics” in the EU.
And their main opponent is in Berlin. It’s time to admit the obvious: we need a different Germany and different Germans. Chancellor Merkel unfortunately demonstrated that Berlin finds it difficult to consistently follow a moderate middle course. Germany either slides into Nazism or into a vulgar understanding of freedom and tolerance. Europe and the world needs more sensible Germans, more accommodating but at the same time capable of protecting Europe’s Christian values and the interests of EU citizens. That other Germany and Germans today could become Austria. History shows that the Austrian, and later Austro-Hungarian Empire excelled at carrying out reforms, pursuing masterly (and at the same time strict) ethnic and religious policy, and understanding what the Ottoman Empire represented. Vienna today is remarkably sensible, prompting the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to turn in its direction.
In early 2015 in the Bohemian castle Slavkov the prime ministers of Austria, Czech Republic, and Slovakia signed the declaration announcing the establishment of the Slavkov Triangle. Its objective is to promote cooperation on transport infrastructure, the social dimension of EU integration, and countries neighboring the EU. Dariusz Kawan, an expert from the Polish Institute of International Affairs noted at the time that Austria is pursuing a consistent policy of “building bridges” between EU and Russia. Vienna actively participated in work on South Stream which would have allowed it to increase the importance of the Baumgarten gas node, and considered sanctions against Russia to be unnecessary.
As long as Poland under its previous government adhered to a strict anti-Russian rhetoric, it created problems within the Vyshegrad Group and in its relations with countries which did not wish to provoke a confrontation with Moscow. This might be a coincidence, but there is one more interesting nuance to the situation. If one is to consider the dominant religion, Europe’s Catholic countries are more favorably predisposed toward Russia than Protestant ones. Until now Warsaw was one the only exception and anomaly. Now Poland has a chance to occupy a worthy position in the “axis of EU’s nation-states.” It will need Hungary’s and Orban’s help. Developing relations with Vienna will also show that the Poles can make reach agreements with Germans, no matter what Berlin thinks.
Stratfor's Forecast of Poland Re-emerging as a Great Power by the Mid-21st Century
Back in 2009 when Stratfor CEO George Friedman talked about Poland reviving as a great power along with Japan by the mid-21st century, we dismissed his remarks as unrealistic. However, given that history seldom moves in a static direction and that Russia has proven that Poland's demographic decline can be reversed via pro-natalist, nationalistic policies, we no longer can dismiss Friedman's forecast as a fantasy. Not when we see the forces of renewed nationalism on the rise in central Europe, contrary to all the expectations of the globalists that these obscurantist impulses had been permanently left behind with their proclaimed 'End of History'.
George Soros: The European Union is falling apart
Given these trends, it's no wonder hardcore globalist front men like George Soros are so glum these days. In fact, Soros directly told a German newspaper interviewer that the leaders of Poland and Hungary "will be difficult to remove". Meaning the 'political technology' as the Russians call it of Colored Revolution that worked so well during the 1990s and 2000s is now failing the globalists:
Schmitz: Merkel used to be very cautious and deliberate. People could trust her. But in the migration crisis, she acted impulsively and took a big risk. Her leadership style has changed and that makes people nervous.
Soros: That’s true, but I welcome the change. There is plenty to be nervous about. As she correctly predicted, the EU is on the verge of collapse. The Greek crisis taught the European authorities the art of muddling through one crisis after another. This practice is popularly known as kicking the can down the road, although it would be more accurate to describe it as kicking a ball uphill so that it keeps rolling back down. The EU now is confronted with not one but five or six crises at the same time.
Schmitz: To be specific, are you referring to Greece, Russia, Ukraine, the coming British referendum, and the migration crisis?
Soros: Yes. And you haven’t even mentioned the root cause of the migration crisis: the conflict in Syria. Nor have you mentioned the unfortunate effect that the terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere have had on European public opinion.
Merkel correctly foresaw the potential of the migration crisis to destroy the European Union. What was a prediction has become the reality. The European Union badly needs fixing. This is a fact but it is not irreversible. And the people who can stop Merkel’s dire prediction from coming true are actually the German people. I think the Germans, under the leadership of Merkel, have achieved a position of hegemony. But they achieved it very cheaply. Normally hegemons have to look out not only for their own interests, but also for the interests of those who are under their protection. Now it’s time for Germans to decide: Do they want to accept the responsibilities and the liabilities involved in being the dominant power in Europe?
Schmitz: Would you say that Merkel’s leadership in the refugee crisis is different from her leadership in the euro crisis? Do you think she’s more willing to become a benevolent hegemon?
Soros: That would be asking too much. I have no reason to change my critical views on her leadership in the euro crisis. Europe could have used the kind of leadership she is showing now much earlier. It is unfortunate that when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in 2008, she was not willing to allow the rescue of the European banking system to be guaranteed on a Europe-wide basis because she felt that the prevailing German public opinion would be opposed to it. If she had tried to change public opinion instead of following it, the tragedy of the European Union could have been avoided.
Schmitz: But she wouldn’t have remained chancellor of Germany for ten years.
Soros: You are right. She was very good at satisfying the requirements and aspirations of a broad range of the German public. She had the support of both those who wanted to be good Europeans and those who wanted her to protect German national interest. That was no mean feat. She was reelected with an increased majority. But in the case of the migration issue, she did act on principle, and she was willing to risk her leadership position. She deserves the support of those who share her principles.
I take this very personally. I am a strong supporter of the values and principles of an open society because of my personal history, surviving the Holocaust as a Jew under the Nazi occupation of Hungary. And I believe that she shares those values because of her personal history, growing up under Communist rule in East Germany under the influence of her father, who was a pastor. That makes me her supporter although we disagree on a number of important issues.
Schmitz: You have been so involved in promoting the principles of open society and supporting democratic change in Eastern Europe. Why is there so much opposition and resentment toward refugees there?
Soros: Because the principles of an open society don’t have strong roots in that part of the world. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is promoting the principles of Hungarian and Christian identity. Combining national identity with religion is a powerful mix. And Orbán is not alone. The leader of the newly elected ruling party in Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is taking a similar approach. He is not as intelligent as Orbán, but he is a canny politician and he chose migration as the central issue of his campaign. Poland is one of the most ethnically and religiously homogeneous countries in Europe. A Muslim immigrant in Catholic Poland is the embodiment of the Other. Kaczy?ski was successful in painting him as the devil.
Schmitz: More broadly, how do you view the political situation in Poland and Hungary?
Soros: Although Kaczynski and Orbán are very different people, the regimes they intend to establish are very similar. As I have suggested, they seek to exploit a mix of ethnic and religious nationalism in order to perpetuate themselves in power. In a sense they are trying to reestablish the kind of sham democracy that prevailed in the period between the First and Second World Wars in Admiral Horthy’s Hungary and Marshal Piłsudski's Poland. Once in power, they are liable to capture some of the institutions of democracy that are and should be autonomous, whether the central bank or the constitutional court. Orbán has already done it; Kaczynski is only starting now. They will be difficult to remove.
Putin jokes in Vienna about how 100 years ago Galicia and its capital Lemberg/Lvov were part of the Roman Catholic Austro-Hungarian Empire, not the Russian Empire, and stops short of saying that it could be again...