On August 28 the commentator Paul Krugman observed in the New York Times that “What Freedom House calls illiberalism is on the rise across Eastern Europe. This includes Poland and Hungary, both still members of the European Union, in which democracy as we normally understand it is already dead.” He pointed out that in Poland the ruling “Law and Justice” party has established “a regime that maintains the forms of popular elections, but has destroyed the independence of the judiciary, suppressed freedom of the press, institutionalized large-scale corruption and effectively delegitimized dissent. The result seems likely to be one-party rule for the foreseeable future.”
He is almost a lone voice in the Western wildness of feverish anti-Russia propaganda, where there is little reporting of anything even remotely critical of Poland, that pillar of the US-NATO military alliance.
Mr Krugman’s main thrust is despair about his own country because he considers it to be “suffering from the same disease” as Poland, which is causing Trump’s Republican Party to be “ready, even eager, to become an American version of Law and Justice or Fidesz [the bigoted and racist Hungarian party], exploiting its current political power to lock in permanent rule.”
It is doubtful if Mr Krugman noticed a report about Poland that appeared in Defense News the day before his column was published. It was headlined “Amid Russian military buildup, Poland reacts” and written by a Warsaw-based journalist called Jaroslaw Adamowski, about whom very little is known, which is intriguing, because journalists like to be known, for personal commercial reasons, if no other.
Mr Adamowski began by recounting that “As Russia continues to bolster its military capacities along its western borders, neighbouring NATO member states such as Poland are responding to the rising security concerns by adapting and expanding their capabilities. Warsaw is intensifying efforts to strengthen the Polish military’s air defence capacities, secure a permanent presence of US troops on the country’s soil and establish a new division of the operational forces in Poland’s east.”
Adamowski mentions that “Moscow claims its military buildup comes in response to Western actions” but there is no reference — there very rarely is — to the fact that after the Cold War ended, the US-NATO military alliance expanded from 13 member states to 29, all round Russia’s borders, without there being even the slightest indication that Russia was contemplating any military action, anywhere. As noted by Stephen Cohen (professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York and Princeton Universities), “throughout the [NATO expansion] process, Russia has been repeatedly denounced for seeking any sphere of security, even on its own borders.”
And by nobody has Russia been more forcefully vilified and condemned than by the Polish government, the regime which, as Human Rights Watch reports, “continues to undermine the rule of law and human rights protection and introduce new laws that curb free expression and assembly.” Amnesty International states that “harassment of protestors and excessive use of force by the police during demonstrations is the hard-hitting reality in Poland today” but almost nothing appears in the Western media about gross violations of human rights in Poland. The place is too valuable as an anti-Russia ally — and an eager purchaser of expensive military equipment.
So it may be no coincidence that few figures in the west have been more supportive and effusive about the Warsaw regime than President Trump who declared a year ago that the US and Poland have “reiterated our enduring bond. We’ve never been closer to Poland, I think, than we are right now” and he continues to be enthusiastic about the country and its government, although his declaration that “in the Polish people we see the soul of Europe” is not exactly the stance of the European Commission, which although trying hard to keep Poland in the EU, is not prepared to accept a situation in which it states that Poland’s ruling PIS party “can systematically politically interfere with the composition, powers, the administration and the functioning” of judicial authorities.
But Washington is happy to do so.
On August 28 the White House announced that Polish President Andrzej Duda will visit the US in September to “address ways to strengthen the United States-Poland strategic partnership and plan to discuss topics of mutual interest, including trade, military, and security matters.”
It will indeed be a meeting of minds when Trump and Duda embrace on the White House lawn, and no doubt the way will be paved for even more purchases by Poland of expensive military equipment on the lines of the deal to buy US Patriot missiles at the staggering cost of 10 billion dollars, which President Duda called “historic.”
The Patriot deal might not be truly historic, but it was certainly lucrative, because in March 2018, when the decision was announced, the value of stock in Raytheon, the maker of the Patriot system, went up from $211.36 to $215.82, so someone made a nice profit.
Other recent military purchases by Poland from energetic US arms companies have included $250 million for AIM-120C-7 Air-to-Air Missiles, another $250 million for an Artillery Rocket System, a comparatively modest $200 million for F-16 fighter upgrades, and the same amount for Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles. As noted by Voice of America, “With NATO’s Defense Buildup, US Weapons Makers Could Benefit… Last year, according to the Security Assistance Monitor, which tracks arms sales trends, five NATO countries — Poland, Canada, Romania, Britain and Greece — were among the 20 largest US arms buyers.”
And Poland isn’t going to stop spending on weapons. As announced by Pawel Soloch, the head of Poland's National Security Bureau, “We want to accelerate the pace of buying equipment and armaments” and then in May 2018, no doubt in the interests of democracy and human rights, the Polish government decided to offer the US “financial support for the deployment of a permanent US armoured division in Poland” at a cost “in the range of $1.5 billion to $2 billion.” This would complement the recent deployment to Poland of US Air Force Reaper attack drones which are armed with “precision-guided bombs and missiles” and, as announced by the US Air Force, are intended to “promote stability and security within the region and to strengthen relationships with NATO allies and other European partners.”
The sky’s no limit, apparently — but it is difficult to determine how “stability and security” in Europe are going to be improved by stationing dozens of US Air Force missile-firing drones in Poland. Who is their target?
Little wonder President Duda is going to be so warmly welcomed in the White House, after which happy jamboree his country, that miserable caricature of democracy, will go from strength to strength, and the West will continue to embrace Warsaw’s hatred of Russia, while ignoring the wise caution of such as Professor Laurent Pech of the UK’s Middlesex University, who summed up the appalling situation by saying that “Poland is no longer a state governed by the rule of law.”
But it has Patriots and Reapers.