August 27, 2016 –
– By Jafe Arnold (J. Arnoldski) for The Greanville Post –
Unless change prevails, Poland is slated to disappear from the map once again.
When Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz recently boasted that the NATO Summit in Warsaw would ensure that “The forces of our allies will finally be in place permanently on the eastern flank”, his formal ministerial title once again helped to show its true colors.
That any defense minister would refer to his country as a mere “flank”, especially in an operative military context concerning armed forces other than its own, is a sad relinquishment of sovereignty even in the realm of semantics. Even in the Polish People’s Republic, which today’s Polish elites ceaselessly slander as part of their raison d’être, the country’s leaders never approached their country as an object, but as a conscious subject in international relations which could and ought to strive for the most optimal scenarios possible even within the rigid framework of Cold War confrontation and geopolitical deadlock.
Then, socialist Poland earned itself both ire and praise for its relatively aggressive bartering over its security guarantees unlike now, as Poland resembles little more than a willing toy or, at best, attack dog for the Western elites and corporations which have looted and manipulated it since 1989. Then again, Macierewicz’s statements should come as no surprise. What else could be expected from the man who called the brutal genocide against Poles by Ukrainian Nazis in Volyn in 1943 a mere “Russian manipulation” and claimed that Russia is “today’s greatest threat to global security” which has “undermined international order to the extent of “no country in recent history”?
But the problem neither begins nor ends with Macierewicz, who is merely another, albeit comparatively more preposterous, representative of the Polish elite. Macierewicz is a symptom, while the disease itself plaguing today’s Poland is the country’s subjugation by the US, NATO, and related Atlanticist structures in the EU who are striving to turn Poland into a frontline conflict-zone in a war with Russia.
Amidst the heightening crisis of “European integration” (read: Atlanticist disintegration) and the re-tabling of the question of national sovereignty, Poland stands out as a unique case. As a point of contrast, the big EU countries like Germany, Italy, or France indeed do suffer from being accomplices to the Atlanticist project and anti-Russian crusade. They are restricted to tailing the declining US Empire in foreign policy, are subjected to the violent consequences of the “War on Terror” and the burdens of mass migration provoked by US wars, and both their working people and what’s left of their national bourgeoisie unduly suffer from the anti-Russian sanctions. Not to mention the endless austerity measures desperately imposed to keep the EU welded together in its present, dysfunctional form for the benefit of US imperialism and finance capital. As we have written elsewhere, Poland by all means pays (or, more precisely, is forced to pay) these costs for being a subject of the Atlanticist project. But Poland has an even deeper hole being dug for it by both its native elites and foreign “patrons”: Poland is being turned into the site of a war zone itself, one of the hot battlefields of geopolitical Endkampf.
This daunting reality manifests itself in two particularly noteworthy spheres.
Poland as a suicide bomber
From a military standpoint, Poland is being positioned as the sacrificial victim for a pre-emptive or subsequent Russian response to NATO aggression. The dangerous implications of NATO’s ever-increasing deployment of troops to Eastern Europe, principally Poland and the Baltic states, are widely known and often cited. But the “cannon fodder” is, in the end, just that. What about the cannon itself?
The most critical example of this is the deployment of the infamous “US missile defense systems” on Polish soil. Washington’s official justification of such a project is well known: these missile complexes are allegedly, supposedly intended to defend from an Iranian attack! In reality, most experts besides NATO propagandists and their lackeys acknowledge that this system is aimed at none other than the Russian Federation. But even more intriguing is the nature of these “defense” systems: according to top Russian military analysts Igor Korotchenko and Viktor Baranets, the technicalities of these systems and their utilization doctrine are such that they are not even designed to deflect an attack of any sort, a nuance of enormous gravity behind which lurks a frightening truth. In reality, these systems are coordinated to prevent a responsive counter-attack. In other words, they are meant to attract a responsive strike towards themselves and resist such only after a strike has been launched by the US-NATO side against a target expected to defend itself, ostensibly – let’s call things by their names – Russia. As nuclear power engineer and strategic analyst Albert Naryshkin puts it, “We are talking about a simple, understandable, and quite characteristically American scenario” up to the point of “involving the provocation of “nuclear aggression.” The only thing that Poland stands to win with the installation of US-NATO “defense” missiles on its territory is the certainty that Poland will become a key target in armed exchanges the magnitude of which are likely to resemble a Third World War. It’s enough to heed Vladimir Putin’s pragmatic yet ominous warning:
As if the presence of such systems – which the Russian Federation has repeatedly iterated it interprets as a liable threat and is preparing a potential military response to – was not enough, then the Atlantic Council’s program for, literally, “arming Poland against Russia,” is the nail in the coffin. Not only does the document call for Poland to violate international conventions by attacking civilian structures “which could include the Moscow metro, the St. Petersburg power network, and Russian state-run media outlets such as RT,” but also openly promotes and elaborates on the notion that Poland is none other than NATO’s frontline.
According to the program, “even if Moscow has no immediate intent to challenge NATO directly,” Poland must dramatically expand its armed forces, increase the frequency of provocative exercises to “demonstrate readiness,” deploy offensive cyber operations, “declare” the “right” to “make counterattacks deep into Russian territory” and “dispatch Special Operations Forces (SOF) into Russian territory”, “move forces into the Baltics and possibly Romania,” and “move forward expeditiously” with its $34 billion military modernization procurements to which “might be added US $26 billion.”
In effect, NATO’s proposals for Poland mean further, more ambitious provocations and bellicosity that can only end in turning Poland into the victim of an inconceivably disastrous war in which it has no justifiable interest.
NATO’s assurance that it will defend and support Poland in any case of conflict can only be taken with a grain of salt, seeing as how the North Atlantic Treaty allows for member-states to fulfill their obligations of assistance by a mere diplomatic note wishing “good luck.” Whether one agrees with the political content of the example or not, it must be admitted that Poland has a long history of being abandoned at the crucial moment by Western powers promising it military support, including in the past century’s two world wars. That Poland could stand alone in any potential conflict, especially with Russia, is such a dubious point that it is sufficient to quote the rhetorical question posed by Marek Glinka: “If Britain recently acknowledged that its military is inferior to the Russian one, then what about Poland?”
To put it bluntly, Poland is being positioned as a sort of suicide bomber, armed to the teeth but slated to explode thanks either to its own pushing of the button or to the defensive shot of another. Thus, it cannot be excluded that Poland’s “arming for deterrence” is nothing other than an “arming for (self-)destruction.” Just like Wahhabi clerics blessing their suicide bomber fodder and promising them eternal rewards, so are the US and NATO promising Poland that it can only be saved by sacrificing itself.
Polish democracy under attack by…NATO
An increasing number of Poles from across the political spectrum have begun to rally against this potentially horrific fate for their country. But, just like in any occupied zone being prepared for war, they have become the victims of political repression and democratic “cutbacks” to “keep the ranks in line.” Just like in the famous lines of Pastor Martin Niemoller, “First they came for the communists,” the first anti-NATO forces to come under attack were activists from the Communist Party of Poland and the Grunwald Patriotic Workers Union. It is worth noting that cases to criminalize and punish left activists have been brought for consideration to Poland’s prosecutor for years, but only in the context surrounding the recent war build-up and NATO Summit in Warsaw did the gavel finally fall. On March 31st, four activists were sentenced without due trial to nine months of restricted freedom, hefty fines, and unpaid labor for the “public promotion of totalitarianism.”
On May 16th, the leader of the political party Zmiana (“Change”), Mateusz Piskorski, issued a prescient warning on his blog that NATO’s newly deployed Very High Readiness Joint Task Force was going to “pacify” protests and opposition groups according to the North Atlantic Treaty’s Article 4 under the pretext of fighting “Russian hybrid war.” Piskorski warned that NATO’s repressive plans, admitted by Multinational Corps Northeast’s General Krol himself, would ultimately render any forms of protest in the country, whether on the streets or on the internet, subject to suppression on the orders of US-NATO advisors.
Two days later, on May 18th, armed agents of the Internal Security Agency raided Zmiana’s office and its activists’ homes and arrested and imprisoned Piskorski while a media campaign hurled the ridiculous charges that he was a “Russian, Chinese, and/or Iraqi spy.” In a most telling and foreboding instance, officers even confiscated ordinary Polish flags from Zmiana’s activists, a move which in Polish history usually accompanies war on Polish soil. Without any official chargesbrought against him, Poland’s leading anti-NATO figure who confidently declared in 2015 that “a Poland without NATO is a Poland without wars”, to this day remains in isolation in prison, from where he has stressed in two urgent letters (1 , 2) that Poland is being converted into a launch pad and target for WWIII.
Internal Security Service agents raiding Zmiana’s Warsaw office
Piskorski’s arrest marked the intense upswing in repression with clear geopolitical consequences. It is no accident that Zmiana, Poland’s leading anti-Atlanticist opposition which stands for Poland leaving NATO and seeking voluntary, mutually beneficial relations with all countries, has come under the bombardment of Poland’s Western corporate media and security services.
So far, Mateusz Piskorski is the biggest example of what is to come for Poland under NATO’s thumb, under the pretext of “fighting hybrid war,” and under the beating drums of mobilization for a war whose instigators have no need for brave advocates of sovereignty and peace. Will the ordinary middle-aged woman, neither an activist nor associated with Zmiana, who wrote a letter of sympathy to Piskorski also be arrested? So far, the police have called her in for interrogation, just as they’ve urged members of Zmiana’s independent trade union to resign, or else…Apparently, any kind of oppositional sentiment is now considered worthy of swinging the state’s coercive forces into action. On August 11th, metropolitan police travelled 350 km into the countryside just to wake up and arrest 20-year-old Zmiana activist Bartosz Tomassi for “publicly promoting totalitarianism” by posting a profile picture on Facebook featuring a hammer and sickle.
The wave of political repression that has hit Poland over the past several months is here to stay. Just like the show trials and repression that engulfed Europe in the 1930’s, their contemporary enactment in Poland is linked to the possibility of impending conflict. And the more that Poland’s “elite” and its colonial masters accelerate the drive towards war, the more “temporary security measures” and arrests will become part of the daily political landscape, whose “politics” could soon enough turn into those “politics by another means.”
As has been the case throughout history, the Polish question today is faced with being decided amidst acute international stakes and tremendous paradigm change. As the unipolar world is violently sliding into the abyss while a nascent multipolar world is slowly but surely emerging, Poland’s current trajectory sets it on the course to tragedy. This is the unavoidable, pivotal context which must be factored into any analysis of the struggle in and over Poland. If progressive forces like Change (Zmiana) don’t cope with this reality, then Poland’s existence on the map itself is threatened.