Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lech Kaczynski R.I.P.

Polish president Lech Kaczynski was killed last week in an airplane crash along with much of his top leadership. He was buried at a state funeral in Cracow, Poland at the Wawel, a medieval castle where Polish kings and super heros rest. A controversy developed on whether he was worthy of the honor.

It was a judgement to be made by Poles, so outside criticism should dismissed by them arbitrarily. Kaczynski had plenty of detractors and enemies internally; his approval poll numbers reportedly was around 30%. He also had strong critics in the European community. So what was the man all about ?

Traditional conservative Poles considered him a nationalist, a Pole's Pole, but the modernists or progressives believed him to be an obstructionist, especially as it concerned integration into the EU. This cleavage was evident on social, political, defense and economic issues. Many now consider these differences sharp enough to have served as a basis for a conspiracy and motive for his death.

Kaczynski was a devout Catholic; he was unlike the run-of-the-mill Polish politician who was a secular Catholic – who had ties to the old Party's apparachiks and used his religious affiliation to promote his popularity with the Polish voters. As a high official in Solidarity and a key advisor to Lech Walesa, Kaczynski used an anti communist party path to power.

The dead president had a PhD in engineering; he was bright and held high political positions to include the mayor of Warsaw. As a mayor he surprised many when he deeded city property to Jewish groups to erect a WWII monument; as a result he enjoyed good will in Israel. A rare thing for a Polish nationalist.

He had an identical twin brother who was embedded in the political system with whom he was closely linked operationally. Lech was the policy guy while his brother Jaroslaw was executor. There is much speculation that brother Jaroslaw will run for president against the progressives drawing on a sympathy vote.

Kaczynski's strict Catholicism was to impact on his relationships with the EU. Recently, Poland won an opt-out from the EU Charter at the Lisbon Conference, because it insisted on retaining national control over family issues and morality, such as abortion and homosexual rights. Poland has been cited with violation by the EU at the human rights court. Kaczynski was to counter gay rights parade by sponsoring a march of Normal People.

A bubbling issue stemming from territorial changes decreed at WWII Potsdam conference involves former German territories ceded to Poland to compensate for land on its Eastern border forcefully transferred to Russia. Private German organizations want to buy them back; there is no official German government position on this proposal, but Kaczynski responded with a furious refusal along the following lines: In WWII Germans destroyed over 80% of Warsaw in two months and killed 200,000 Poles at the same time during the Warsaw Uprising... he darkly hinted at a quid pro quo request for compensation.

Kaczynski's foreign policy was to play to the US to offset the influence of Russia and Germany on Poland. He was a loyal supporter of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and sent his troops to fight. He also was supporter of the US missile defense program to be stationed in Poland. This type of big power balancing act has never worked for Poland as it has been crushed regularly and occupied by these two countries since the 18th century

A German Socialist magazine wrote that Polish anti communists are Catholic bigots; one thing for certain is that the Catholic church of Poland holds a mystical sway over the people as a pervasive, consistent beacon of Polish culture and freedom when their government failed them throughout history. This influence will not disappear, but it could dissipate.

Poles are preparing to vote on the euro to replace the zloty and there are tensions with the EU on the over valuation of the Polish currency. The head of the Polish central bank, killed with Kaczynski, intentionally has not been replaced by the new opposition government.

Lech Kaczynski was just a two act play. May he rest in peace in the Wawel. The third and final Kaczynski act will be played by his twin brother Jaroslaw whose ideas like his visage are IDENTICAL. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.


Blogger stats79 said...

He seems like a very decent man. How odd he was also a politician.


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