With Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s announcement that he supports the creation of an autonomous Hungarian political territory within the present borders of Ukraine, and that he believes Ukrainian citizens of Hungarian decent should be issued Hungarian citizenship, a European statesman has finally had the courage to break the zombie-like march of Europe’s political class to the tune of the Jacobin world democratic revolution, which has already harvested the blood of hundreds of thousands and presently has its sight set on the nations composing the Ukrainian state. Prime Minister Orban’s declaration is important because unlike President Putin, Mr. Orban is a statesmen whose democratic credentials cannot be questioned, and his nation is a member of the European Union: the first to so vividly break away from the ridiculous Jacobin revolutionary narrative that is dominating other European capitals. Mr. Orban, if he sticks to his guns, could accomplish what Europe truly needs: the beginning of—pardon the intentional irony—a European spring. To those who believe his words to go against European Union and NATO policy, Prime Minister Orban said “Hungary is a member of an alliance, not a hostage of an alliance.”
As to the nature of that alliance, the Polish conservative, Mr. Janusz Korwin Mikke, makes a good point when he repeats that “a good Russian opposed the Soviet Union, and a good European must oppose the European Union.” Sadly, no statesman of stature exists today in Poland to do the herculean work required to restore Europe to itself. This honor, once within reach of Poland when the dearly departed Mr. Lech Kaczynski was President, now lies firmly in the hands of Victor Orban and the Hungarian nation. Mr. Orban’s view of Hungary’s membership in the European Union is the height of realpolitik: “If you are not at the table for the meal, you are on the table as the meal.” He views Hungarian membership in the Union not, like the weak willed current Polish government, as a privilege, but as a Machiavellian necessity to keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Never an enthusiast of the Maidan revolution, his recent pronouncement, effectively mirroring the Russian approach to their people in Crimea, Donietsk and Luhansk provinces, is a breakthrough for Europe; it is an awakening of true European patriotism—a patriotism rooted in Christian historical consciousness and a respect for national self-determination, tempered by realism and prudence. It is a realism that recognizes Ukraine for the fiction it was and the dangerous fiction it has become. Europe is fortunate to have one statesman who recognizes this and has the courage to act on it.
As a Polish and American citizen, it has been embarrassing for me to watch as the governments of my two countries led to a revolution in Kiev whose wretched result was the horrible massacre of scores of men and women in Odessa. Contrary to the lunacy of National Review, which believes Mr. Putin murdered his own people (perhaps next they will suggest that Mr. Putin was behind the pro-Western revolution, all to reclaim Crimea), the Odessa massacre was in fact a classic example of what happens when law and order fall victim to revolution and when one set of partisans decides to ignore the ballot box in favor of a violent seizure of power because they are convinced the will of the people was wrong.
If the police exist for any purpose, it is to stop riots from getting out of hand, not to stand by while one group burns another group to death. In any civilized country, the government that allowed such a massacre to take place would be impeached and held to account. In revolutionary Ukraine, burning Russians alive in Odessa is government policy. More people have been murdered and killed under the revolutionary regime in Kiev than at any time in that region of the world since the second World War. Where Kiev rules, carnage and death reign. This is because the government in Kiev is a revolutionary regime, put in place contrary to the sovereign will of the people, which now pretends to be holding an election campaign while deploying armored personnel carriers, helicopters and soldiers to kill its own citizens.
None of this had to happen, and likely would not have happened if not for the detrimental influence of American neoconservatism on Polish conservatism. When the dearly departed Lech Kaczynski was elected President of Poland in 2005, and his brother Prime Minister in 2006, they undertook a great restoration of Polish national tradition unseen since the days of the II Republic. Part of this restoration was rooted in a final weeding out of communism: the Kaczynski brothers set out to abolish (not reform, not reorganize, not rename or rethink) – but abolish the Military Information Services, the Polish equivalent of the CIA. Their gambit was opposed at several key moments by their own Minister of Defense, Mr. Radek Sikorski, who claimed that the Polish Military Information Services were doing important work in the Iraq war, on behalf of NATO. Mr. Sikorski thus placed the interest of the American neoconservative war effort above the interests of Poland, which lay in weeding out the remnants of the Soviet Union still festering in Warsaw, not in supporting their activities in Iraq. Mr. Sikorski then betrayed his friends further by leaving the conservative government and joining the party of power—so called because their only program is public relations in pursuit of power.
The conflict over the abolition of the Military Intelligence Services weakened Prime Minister Kaczynski’s government so much, that the other traitors in his midst (and there were many) saw their chance to unsheathe their knives. Prime Minister Kaczynski, attacked from within and by a permanent, demonizing media campaign from without, decided to call for early elections, hoping that a renewed electoral victory would give him a mandate to continue his conservative policies. He also hoped, by calling early elections, to silence the venomous media which were daily screaming that he was a dictator, bent on ending Polish democracy. In the subsequent election in 2007, Mr. Kaczynski’s party received more votes than in 2005, but lost their parliamentary majority. Contrary to the media narrative that Mr. Kaczynski was a dictator, or as Mr. Sikorski called the twins “a pack of wolves”, the little man who was presented by his enemies as Poland’s Napoleon, respectfully and humbly bid farewell to his government and resigned from his post as Prime Minister.
Thus began the process which led to the Smolensk catastrophe and the death of President Kaczynski and the majority of Poland’s conservative political elite. For between 2007 and 2010, President Kaczynski and the new Prime Minister from the party of power, engaged in a fratricidal conflict made possible by a flaw in Poland’s constitution: the lack of a unitary executive branch. I believed this flaw would be deadly well before the Smolensk catastrophe, which is why, when Fortune smiled upon me, and I was given the opportunity to meet the President, I prepared a gift: I translated a fragment of Harvey C Mansfield’s Taming the Prince, an excellent case for the virtues of a limited, unitary executive. The Polish constitution does not provide for a unitary executive; rather it stipulates that the executive branch is composed of both President and Prime Minister who should “work together” in crafting foreign policy. This Sesame Street language led to a situation in which the President and Prime Minister, unable to agree on anything, initiated two distinctly separate foreign policies.
Poland, between 2007 and April of 2010, thus had two foreign policies—one represented by the President, the other by the Prime Minister. The two would fly to the same meetings, argue publicly over which of them would represent Poland at the meeting, and then grudgingly ask for a second chair at the table so they could sit together. When Prime Minister Tusk decided to fly to Smolensk on April 7th, 2010 to commemorate the Katyn massacre of Poles, President Kaczynski, not to be out done, arranged his own flight and his own ceremony on April 10th. Unfortunately, the office of the President was, by law, serviced by the ministry of foreign affairs in its conduct of foreign policy, and that ministry was under the control of the Prime Minister and his new ally, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski. The Prime Minister and foreign minister did what they could to torpedo the President’s plans, including, to say the least, treating matters of Presidential security with extreme laxity. While there is no doubt in my mind that the catastrophic air crash that followed was the result of pilot error, it is a fact that the Prime Minister and Foriegn Minister Sikorski bore “political responsibility”, as the late President’s brother put it, for the death of the President. They also benefited handsomely from the death, not only of President Kaczynski, but of the entire Polish conservative leadership, which also died in the crash.
While Poles had spent the years from 2007 to 2010 engaged in fratricidal political conflict, Victor Orban and his Hungarian conservative backers accomplished what Polish conservatives failed to do. They changed their constitution, making a clean break from the necessary, peaceful, but ultimately harmful compromises with Hungary’s communist past made in 1989, they restricted the activities of foreign corporations (often acting on behalf of foreign governments) on Hungarian soil in such a way that these corporations could not take control of economic policy from the people’s representatives, and they instituted free market reforms tempered by prudence and Christian ethics. Events in Europe also moved along. While Poland’s party of power was busy congratulating itself for being loved by important people in the salons of Brussels, Mr. Orban was busy making peace with Russia, pursuing Hungarian national interest, and making clear to both East and West what it was that Hungary stood for. Now that he and his party have been re-elected with sweeping majorities, his European opponents can no longer contend, as they did about Prime Minister Kaczynski in 2006, that he is some undemocratic usurper, a temporary anomaly swept into power by demagogues, a wrinkle in time, soon to be ironed out along the uninterrupted march to an ahistorical, secular European identity. Mr. Orban is here to stay, and he is now making what could be the most important political gambit in modern European history by publically taking the effectual side of Mr.. Putin, calling for political autonomy for Hungarian nationals in the state of Ukraine, and challenging the EU and NATO.
Polish conservatives, meanwhile, have lost their historic chance at greatness. The last time Jaroslaw Kaczynski demonstrated political cunning, magnanimous statesmanship and wisdom was directly following the tragic death of his brother, the President. Jaroslaw Kaczynski made a youtube video where he spoke warmly to his “Russian friends” on the Russian holiday “Victory against Fascism Day”. It is worth quoting Mr. Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s entire short speech – particularly back to himself. To me, this speech is possibly the highest example of Polish statesmanship in modern times; its’ brevity and meaning mirrors Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. The visible and audible emotion of a man who lost his beloved brother, yet has a duty to his beloved fatherland is clear and authentic:
“Today, on May 9, 2010, my beloved brother, the Polish President Lech Kaczynski, was scheduled to be standing on Red Square. I know what he would have been thinking, looking with pride at the Polish soldiers marching past him. He would think of the millions of Russian soldiers who died fighting the German Third Reich. But, he would also think of Katyn. He would think of the crime which, 70 years ago, so vastly divided our two nations. I know, that on Russian land, lay the bodies of millions of victims of Stalinist terror—Russians, and those of other nationalities. I know that Stalinism, and the final process of coming to terms with Stalinism is a problem for both of our nations. I also know that a new relationship can only be built on the basis of truth, and that we must seek to know this truth even if it is very painful. Poles remember the bullets and the beatings that were our lot at the hands of the NKVD, but Poles also remember that in this dark time, many Russians also helped them. Poles remember that many Russians gave them what they had, though they had very little. I myself know that my grandfather, Alexander Kaczynski heard a Russian call to him ‘Alexander Piotrowich! Biegit! (run!)”. Thanks to this Russian, my grandfather saved his life, the life of my grandmother and the life of my father. On April 10 of this year, a great tragedy was our lot. The sympathy and empathy of millions of Russians was noticed here in Poland. Thank you—for every tear, for every moving word. There are moments in history that can change everything. Moments that can change the tides of history. I hope, and millions of Poles who supported Lech Kaczynski shared this hope, that this moment is upon us, that this moment of great change for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren is now upon us.”
This magnanimity, in the midst of the Smolensk tragedy, was Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s finest moment as a Polish statesman. It was wasted in subsequent years as Jaroslaw Kaczynski surrounded himself with Russophobes and men of little intelligence, purged his party of many thinking conservatives, and ultimately made a fool of himself in Kiev, standing at the side of fascists and openly supporting Vitali Klitchko, who a few weeks later came to Poland to speak at a campaign rally organized by Mr. Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s opponents. As Poles, we can only be ashamed of ourselves that after the great sympathy shown by Russia and the Russian leadership to Poland upon the death of President Kaczynski, the Polish media, political elites, and Mr. Kaczynski himself are silent about the scores of Russian men and women burned alive in Odessa by a government backed by the very European Union that Lech Kaczynski did so much to protect Polish Christian culture against.
Mr. Jaroslaw Kaczynski often tells the people now that if elected, he will “do in Poland what Orban has done in Hungary.” Yet to do this, he must support the counter-revolution in Ukraine, which means supporting popular sovereignty in Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea. He must also support the aspirations of Poles of Ukrainian decent to return to Polish rule, just as Prime Minister Orban supports Hungarian nationals who are threatened by the revolutionary Kiev regime. The dearly departed President Kaczynski made one tactical blunder: convinced that America would install a vast missile defense shield in his country, and forever guarantee its security with legions of American troops, he intensified his Russo-phobia and charged blindly into the Georgian war of aggression against the autonomy of South Ossetia rather than wait for the situation to become clearer. Such mistakes, like Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s rash trip to Kiev in support of the revolution are not easily repaired, though in politics, it is possible to repair anything. Still, even if Mr. Jaroslaw Kaczynski miraculously comes to his senses on the matter of Ukraine and follows Mr. Orban’s lead, it will not change the fact that Poland, once poised to lead Eastern European nations as a regional power, will now at best follow the lead of Mr. Orban, who’s conservatism is equally thoughtful and effective as the Czech republic’s Vaclav Klaus, but, given the size and potential of Hungary, can actually impact policy in the region rather than be a voice in the wilderness. Poland, and Polish conservatives, meanwhile, have lost their historic chance to lead, though perhaps participation in a European spring alongside Mr. Orban and a strong, intelligent Hungarian conservatism is not the worst of possible futures.
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