Why Should Poland Thank Putin? Let Us Count the Ways (Rzeczpospolita, Poland)
"Putin forced on the world, and therefore on us, a completely
new, differing narrative. Meaning that in our 25th year, we are thinking - or should
be -more about the next quarter century than the last. We have a historic opportunity
to bring the European Union and the United States closer together. Allies who
grew apart as the Cold War faded, we began to compete more than search for commonalities.
Much was said about renewing the trans-Atlantic Alliance, but the facts were different.
Let Berlin's shock and outrage over the disclosure of NSA eavesdropping be a symbol
of this tendency."
A Polish soldier looks at 150 U.S. paratroopers from the Army's 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team during training exercises in Swidwin, northwest Poland, April 23. Eastern Europeans are far more assertive about confronting Russia than their colleagues in the west - and it shows.
at the end of April, 2014: I'm talking to a senior official of a major corporation
active in Poland. I tell him that June 4 is important to us and a significant
anniversary this year. He listens to me with growing interest, and finally
erupts: “What? Your
elections were on June 4? That's earlier than the fall of Berlin Wall!”
imposed his own narrative
the successes of the past 25 years, we must humbly admit that this is a point
we haven't been able to push through. The world doesn't know and doesn't remember
our June 4, 1989 elections. In fact, we shouldn't be surprised. It wasn't as
picturesque and indelible as the destruction of the Wall, nor was it
immediately framed as a founding myth for Poland. Nor was it as unambiguous,
since the elections were not entirely free and voter participation wasn't
massive. But they happened. It was five months earlier than the events in
Berlin and recognized as the beginning of the end of communism. It is therefore
necessary for us to talk, talk, talk about it. I hope this year's celebration
will take proper advantage of that, including as a chance to spread some good
propaganda about us.
year is quite unique. A few months ago it seemed that the focus would be on the
dates of historical anniversaries: 1989 [the end of Communism in Poland], 1999
[Poland joins NATO], 2004 [Poland joins European Union]. President Putin
decided otherwise, forcing on the world, and therefore on us, a completely new,
differing narrative. Meaning that in our 25th year, we are thinking - or should
be -more about the next quarter century than the last. Do we have a chance for
more fat years of contentment, or are we perhaps entering another menacing turn
in the European history?
aggression of the Russian Federation toward Ukraine triggered mechanisms that
were in deep dormancy, and seemed almost unnecessary. After joining NATO and the
E.U. we had a right to feel secure, guarded by international treaties and the
force of Western deterrence, which seemed capable of keeping Russia at bay.
Today we know that isn't enough. Using new military, diplomatic, and
information tools, Putin has tested it, and achieved everything he wanted.
Posted By Worldmeets.US
France 24's The Debate,
broadcast from Moscow. François Picard welcomes
guests, former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Deputy
of Russia's Rain TV TikhonDzyadko, Director of the Institute of Political Studies
in Moscow Sergei Markov, and Russia Today political analyst Mark
want to believe that this is only a short term advantage, a pyrrhic victory for
the Kremlin, because the price of oil and natural gas will in the end fall and
hurt Russia. Russia's people will tire of living in a state of war against
almost the entire world; Russian oligarchs will rein Putin in or find a successor
for a man who won't spoil their businesses and vacations in Monaco. Today,
however, the Russian president enjoys the support of a significant portion of the
population, which sees in him a restorer of national pride, so weakened by the
collapse of the Soviet Union and during the years of playing second fiddle to
entered Ukraine as if he were taking what was his. He showed that he could also
grab other post-Soviet regions, and without the use of his own regular army.
This is a new stage and an entirely different challenge.
U.S. is tired of
role as global cop
every evil there are elements of good. The Russian offensive forced European decision
makers to stake out their positions. Now we know who - which politicians, particularly
among euro-skeptic parties which have been growing in strength, are direct
supporters of Russia and her interests regardless of the situation. The binary 'us-them'
system has fallen in place.
importantly, we have a historic opportunity to bring the European Union and the
United States closer together. Allies who grew apart as the Cold War faded, we
began to compete more than search for commonalities. Much was said about
renewing the trans-Atlantic Alliance, but the facts were different. Let Berlin's
shock and outrage over the disclosure of NSA eavesdropping be a symbol of this
tangible and painful consequence was a progressive weakening and even atrophy
of NATO. As defense expenditures in Europe declined, the role of the United
States as guarantor of the Alliance's continuity has steadily increased. If not
for Russia's aggression, the upcoming NATO summit in Wales would have likely
brought no breakthrough. The picture is similar on economic grounds: if not for
the changes geopolitical situation, there would be no chance for a
game-changing turn in E.U.-U.S. relations. Now such a turn may be in the offing,
as a result of a negotiated free trade zone comprising Europe and America (the Trans-Atlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership).
is common today to expect that due to Russian aggression, the TTIP has a chance for accelerated negotiations and completion.
The new situation won't simplify the talks, as it doesn't resolve the problem
of genetically modified food imports or copyright issues. Nevertheless, strong
political will on both sides has been known to overcome much more difficult
obstacles. Political will is also what is needed to realize plans for an energy union
advocated by Poland - a supremely logical and necessary part of the E.U.'s structure. There will be no strong Europe without a
strong and diversified resource base.
does this mean for Poland? Let the proof of our changed situation be the fact
that Secretary of State Kerry and Vice President Biden have already visited
Poland this year, and soon President Obama with be with us. This has never
happened before. Americans are generally tired of the role of a global
policeman. In a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 47 percent of
respondents favored limiting American's presence in the world. Only 30 percent
of Americans asked about Ukraine by the Pew Research Center approved of granting
the country direct military support.
to the game
these facts, politicians in Washington are all the more convinced that it makes
sense to give tangible support to its allies on the front line like Poland. So the
latest politico-diplomatic offensive isn't surprising. Nor is the increased
activity of major arms suppliers, the CEOs of which have arrived in Warsaw one
after another over recent weeks. On the other side of the Atlantic, Poland has again
been noticed. It has become an important place for talks and endeavors - and
for this we can also thank Putin.
of closer ties to the United States who are therefore great advocates of the Europe
project, have valid concerns. They recall successive waves of disappointment: the
botched F-16 deal, the effects of subsequent war missions in Iraq and
Afghanistan (and let's not even mention the beaten-to-death issue of visa
wavers for Poles). They note that it was Europe, not America, that helped us move
so far in terms of development. Altogether, we'll receive €229 billion in Union
funding. According to the calculations of Bloomberg
journalists, in today's money that is more than Western Europe received under the
post-war Marshall Plan.
Thanks to Union steroids, Poland was able to grow even when the entire
continent was stuck in recession. Therefore, don't we owe something to our
pro-American faction argues that Europe is much too divided for a prominent
country like Poland to place all of its strategic hopes. We offer you the best
war technologies in the world and employment for your munitions factories, offsets
that are real and tangible. We have already provided the presence of our aircraft
and our troops. Be our close ally, be a Great Britain on continental Europe,
and you will gain a special status and the special protection of our military
and intelligence, anything you need against the aggression of Putin's Russia.
discussion, more and more lively in the corridors of power in Washington,
Brussels, Berlin and Warsaw, reminds one of the old dilemma: is it better to be
healthy and beautiful, or rich? Yet the point is not in the choice, but in the
proportions: we were, are and will be a European country that uniquely engages
its sympathies and expectations on the other side of the Atlantic. At the same
time, we are citizens of Europe, deservedly returning to the game after a 50
role of Polish leaders should be to weigh our interests in the context of those
options. Bombastic proclamations sell badly today, but the time is such that
one has to say: Poland's future role and position is today being decided - including
our political, economic and defensive strength. We have to talk about it, but
more importantly, we have to act - and we have to act now.
*MichałKobosko is editor of the
Project Syndicate's Polska Web site and the director
of the Atlantic Council, an American think tank.