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Is NATO still relevant?


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#21 Rob Randall

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 08:28 AM

Sorry, I should have said the last couple hundred years they were at the mercy their neighbours, certainly not a thousand, I was mixing up two different histories. 


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#22 Mike K.

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 09:02 AM

The entirety of eastern Europe has seen its borders drawn and re-drawn for time immemorial. Poland isn't unique in that regard, not by any stretch of the imagination.

 

Watch this video for a visual of how the borders in eastern Europe changed over the last millennium, focused on Poland's geopolitical situation.

 

In any case, Poland is steadfast in its NATO commitment and despite not being one of the richest countries in Europe, it stands behind its NATO commitment and is unwavering in its obligations to its allies, much to the chagrin of Russia which is working to undermine the Polish government's pursuit of stronger ties to the United States. Much of the corruption in Poland ties back to the Kremlin in one way or another, and with the current Supreme Court tied to the political fallout of Communism's collapse in Poland the only way to ensure allegiance to Poland and not foreign masters is to rudely and rapidly disrupt the upper echelons of power. Loyalists to the Kremlin, of course, officials on the take and the many institutions that benefit from their corruption are not about to sit idly by.

 

Do not forget the 2010 Smolensk airplane crash that killed then President Kaczynski, his wife, former President Kaczorowski, the country's senior military officials, 18 members of Parliament and other high-ranking officials. The delegation was en-route to Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre in which 22,000 military officers, police officers and "intelligentsia" were rounded up and slaughtered at the hands of Stalin. In short, the country's ruling class made up of anti-Communists and officials working towards stronger relations with the US was nearly obliterated due to the crash.

 

The investigation into the crash has not been conclusive but the leading theory is an explosion brought down the plane while an intoxicated flight controller misdirected it towards the airport runway.


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#23 Greg

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 12:27 PM

Much of the corruption in Poland ties back to the Kremlin in one way or another, and with the current Supreme Court tied to the political fallout of Communism's collapse in Poland the only way to ensure allegiance to Poland and not foreign masters is to rudely and rapidly disrupt the upper echelons of power. Loyalists to the Kremlin, of course, officials on the take and the many institutions that benefit from their corruption are not about to sit idly by.
 

 

One of the major figures opposing the attacks on the judiciary is Lech Walesa. Is he a loyalist to the Kremlin, an official on the take, a beneficiary of the corruption, or are there perhaps other legitimate reasons that some Poles are concerned about the changes?


Edited by Greg, 05 July 2018 - 12:28 PM.


#24 Mike K.

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 01:06 PM

Lech?! He was disgraced, unfortunately. Many don’t know that he was subsequently outed as an installed figure courtesy of the Soviet-era Secret Police, aka the polish version of the KGB or German Stasi.

You need to understand that the fall of Communism was an incredible road to riches for the establishment. Post-collapse the country’s echelons of power were rigged with installed loyalists to the Kremlin and Communist party members. Some of these individuals became incredibly wealthy as they set up a post-Communist regime slanted in favour of the old guard. Criminality was rampant and the power establishment operated well above the law. Now that’s starting to change as the ruling PiS party is cleaning house and bringing justice to those who were culpable in the wheeling and dealing of the 1990’s and ‘00’s. In short, Poland was sold out and now justice is coming. Unfortunately the mainstream media doesn’t care to dive into the realities and is publishing stories of “constitutional crisis” BS that’s lapped up by people who have no familiarity beyond the surface of post-Communist politics in Eastern Europe.

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#25 jonny

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 01:21 PM

I agree mostly with this Jonny but to clarify its actually the opposite; Poland currently spends about 1.9% of its GDP on its military whereas Canada spends a paltry 1.2% (figures based on 2016-17 World Bank calculations on global military spending).

 

I wasn't referring to % of GDP, I was referring to real dollars. Canada spends something like 20 billion USD on defense. Poland spends about half of what we do in terms of real dollars.  

 

I just think this obsession with % of GDP is misguided. It's an interesting KPI, but really nothing more than that.

 

If Canada spent 2% of GDP on defense, we would have a military the likes of Germany or South Korea. I'd like us to beef up our military, for sure, but I'm pretty sure that would be overkill in today's world.



#26 Mike K.

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 02:30 PM

Considering Poland is 1/30th the size of Canada, that’s not a bad spend.

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#27 Mike K.

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 02:33 PM

...and considering the cost of maintaining a military in Poland (other than the hardware) is 1/3rd the cost when compared to Canada, one country is clearly excising more value from every “dollar,” despite its smaller military spending.

And that’s probably why Poland built the last three vessels for BC Ferries and why the Spirit of BC was refitted there, although jonny might think that’s pathetic.

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#28 m3m

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 07:07 PM

With respect to Poland, there are ways of enacting judicial reform and eliminating corruption that don't offend basic tenets of natural justice and the rule of law.  Over the past several years, the government has a clear strategy of taking steps that erode judicial independence, remove important checks and balances on the legislative and executive branches, and centralize power to the ruling party.  While Kremlin influence is not desirable, the degradation of the such important values is frightening and puts citizens' human and constitutional rights at risk.  

 

The global community almost universally condemns these actions, including the US, which spoke out harshly against them last year.  The Venice Commission, likely the world's foremost advisory body on democratic and rule of law issues, has universally condemned the actions.  The European Union is invoking Article 7 of the Treaty of Maastricht (which allows sanctions and removes a countries european voting rights as a result of fundamental rights abuses) against Poland as a direct result of these actions. 

 

People may say that the international community has no business interfering with Poland's sovereignty.  However, this ignores Poland's legal obligations to the EU.  By joining the EU, countries voluntarily relinquish full sovereignty for the common good of member states,  and agree to be accountable to the international law governing the member states.  Further, unchecked sovereignty has led to countless examples of abuses and persecution against minorities, which the international community rightfully should monitor.  

 

Multinational alliances such as NATO help keep its members in line in order to promote the common goal of the organization. In NATO's case this is the freedom and security of its members which is inherently tied to the rule of law.  For example, Poland badly wants a US military base inside its borders.  If the member nations of NATO view the Polish government's recent actions as a threat to freedom and security, they can use Poland's desire for a US base as a means of assisting Poland in reforming the judiciary in a manner more consistent with member states' democratic values. 

 

Ps. Despite the above, does anybody actually believe Poland, of all countries, is going to allow itself to be governed by a totalitarian regime?


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#29 Mike K.

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Posted 06 July 2018 - 05:21 AM

Ridding a country of entrenched corruption is no small or easy task.

 

Sometimes you have to break some eggs to make an omelette, and the Polish people have had enough of a rigged system that was never supposed to have materialized after the fall of an oppressive regime, but alas, here we are.


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#30 Jason-L

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Posted 06 July 2018 - 07:11 AM

Ridding a country of entrenched corruption is no small or easy task.

 

Sometimes you have to break some eggs to make an omelette, and the Polish people have had enough of a rigged system that was never supposed to have materialized after the fall of an oppressive regime, but alas, here we are.

You always have to break eggs to make an omelette, and boy does it suck for the eggs when they get whipped and beaten and fried.  But at least the person (oligarchy? dictatorship?) who eats the omelette gets a tasty meal.


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#31 Mike K.

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Posted 06 July 2018 - 07:38 AM

The Poles have every opportunity to vote against this government if they are unhappy with the direction it pledged, and was supported by voters over, to take.

Thus far every single poll conducted in 2018 in the runup to the 2019 election has the PiS party in the lead. Every. Single. Poll. In 2017 all but two poll results showed the largest amount of support for PiS.

The media’s brouhaha aside, the Poles are standing behind their government and they expect them to clean up house. Like I was saying before, it is mind boggling to be a consumer of Polish news and to see just how lacking and slanted western coverage of Polish current events are, and how deceitful some of the reporting is.

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