This year’s Annual Kościuszko Chair Spring Symposium – hosted by IWP on Saturday, 14 April – covered a wide array of relevant topics, including: Hungary and post-communism, the CIA and Solidarity, Poland and the Euro, and the New York Times and Poland.
Dr. Sebastian Gorka of National Defense University, who also teaches a class on Al Qaeda’s enemy threat doctrine at IWP, focused on the problems of post-communism in Hungary. The policies of Victor Orban, the Danubian country’s conservative prime minister, aim to unseat the post-communist “good old boy” network. In general, these post-totalitarian patronage networks and secret policemen continue to wield influence in formerly communist countries, which retards and distorts the transition to democracy. Thus, Orban’s policies in this regard, Dr. Gorka argued, are twenty years overdue. Not surprisingly, the Magyar leader has been demonized by the post-communist/liberal alliance on both sides of the old Iron Curtain. Much of this bad press feeds off of Western unfamiliarity with the phenomenon of post-communism.
Mr. Ted Kontek, a long-time diplomat, presented the findings of his research on the CIA’s role in aiding Poland’s Solidarity movement during the 1980s. He pointed out that while the CIA indeed provided some modest help, Solidarity sustained itself primarily through the efforts of its own members; especially during the most difficult years for the movement, i.e. the martial law years (1981 – 1983). The myth of millions of dollars flowing from the CIA to Solidarity – perpetuated both by some American pundits and communist secret policemen, albeit for much different reasons – has little evidence to support it, said Mr. Kontek. Even so, President Reagan and his supporters in the administration fought hard to maintain pressure on the communist regime in Poland and established the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which provided significant assistance to Solidarity during the late 1980s.
Prof. Andrzej Kaźmierczak of the Monetary Policy Council of the National Bank of Poland addressed the problems of the country’s potential integration with the Eurozone. Speaking from a purely economic point of view, he demonstrated that, at the current stage of Poland’s economic development, which still diverges from the economies of the Eurozone, the country would not benefit by adopting the Euro. Further, the surrender of its own sovereign currency would deprive Poland of the tools of economic statecraft necessary to maintain and stimulate growth. Nonetheless, the decision to join the Eurozone will be political, not economic.
The symposium was concluded by Mr. Paweł Styrna – IWP international affairs student and Kosciuszko Chair research assistant – who spoke of the portrayal of Poland by The New York Times. His research query into over 150 years of the daily’s coverage revealed a consistent track record of anti-Polish bias. This grave lack of objectivity on the part of the nation’s “newspaper of record” was, it appears, primarily ideologically motivated. Quite simply, Catholic, traditional, and patriotic Poland embodied (and continues to embody) a complex of values repugnant to progressives, who have come to increasingly dominate the mediasphere in the West.
Prof. Andrzej Kazmierczak
Carole Foryst (IWP Class of 2010) and Pawel Styrna