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Geopolitics

The Train Wreck That Is Poland Right Now

Everything is collapsing: The zloty is sinking, a virus is spreading, diplomacy has disappeared, and so has the rule of law. And the government claims everything is going just fine.

Photo of police forces standing behind barbed wire on the Poland-Belarus border.

Police forces on the Poland-Belarus border.

Monika Olejnik

-OpEd-

WARSAW — Everywhere we look, there is a disaster.

The zloty is sinking because of inflation, which we owe to the head of Poland's central bank Adam Glapinski, a political ally of ruling PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski since the early 1990s when the pair demonstrated against then President Lech Wałęsa and joined in burning his effigy.

At the same time, we also have a COVID-19 catastrophe. As we've witnessed, 25,000 daily cases and hundreds of deaths are not enough for the government to introduce any kind of restrictions. The Prime Minister is afraid of demonstrations that could lead to deaths from COVID-19, while tens of thousands of people recently attended the National Stadium without masks and nobody checked whether anyone was vaccinated.


When journalists ask representatives of the Health Ministry why there are no restrictions or vaccines mandates, the answer is that we have a different culture than in other countries, we are not like the Germans or the Austrians… we are more rebellious!

The power of anti-vax

How are we different from Spaniards, French, Italians, Czechs, Ukrainians, Austrians or Germans? What is this utter nonsense? This government is simply afraid of anti-vaccine sentiment. It is shameful that the Medical Council of the Prime Minister says one thing and the government says another. Why do you need this Medical Council, Mr. Prime Minister, if you do not listen to it?

Is it a restriction of freedom?

Or do Poles have different organisms than other nations, and will somehow survive this pandemic? When we hear about COVID-19 infected newborns at the hospital, our hearts go out to them — but we also ask why nobody told their mothers that they should get vaccinated during their pregnancy.

And is it so difficult to go to the cinema, theater, restaurants with vaccine passports or negative test results? Is it a restriction of freedom? Is following traffic regulations when driving a car a restriction of freedom?

Photo of Polish President Andrzej Duda giving a speech in Warsaw on Nov. 11

Polish President Andrzej Duda giving a speech in Warsaw on Nov. 11

Damian Burzykowski/Newspix/ZUMA

When Kaczynski gets involved

And finally, we have a moral disaster at the border, as historian, journalist and Holocaust survivor Marian Turski declared. We are in a diplomatic debacle indeed. When Aleksander Kwasniewski was Poland's president, he took a stand in the Maidan Square conflict in Ukraine to such an extent that he probably lost his chance to become UN Secretary General because Putin never forgave him. When there was a conflict in Georgia, President Lech Kaczynski got involved. But now that there is a conflict on the Polish-Belarusian border, and President Andrzej Duda tells the German president: "We will not accept any arrangements that were made without our approval."

Sure, it is bothersome to see Chancellor Angela Merkel talking to Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko or President Emmanuel Macron talking to Vladimir Putin. But instead of being annoyed by this, Mr. President, you should have organized a Franco-German-Polish summit. That's what the presidency is about, not just throwing around big words.

So the best we can do is flex our muscles, since the government itself can't confront any of these disasters. And on each front, it is Poland's citizens and good name that pays the consequences.

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Geopolitics

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023

Before heading to South Sudan to continue his highly anticipated trip to Africa, the pontiff was in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he delivered a powerful speech, in a country where 40 million Catholics live.

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — You may know the famous Joseph Stalin quote: “The Pope? How many divisions has he got?” Pope Francis still has no military divisions to his name, but he uses his voice, and he does so wisely — sometimes speaking up when no one else would dare.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Belgian Congo, a region plundered and martyred, before and after its independence in 1960), Francis has chosen to speak loudly. Congo is a country with 110 million inhabitants, immensely rich in minerals, but populated by poor people and victims of brutal wars.

That land is essential to the planetary ecosystem, and yet for too long, the world has not seen it for its true value.

The words of this 86-year-old pope, who now moves around in a wheelchair, deserve our attention. He undoubtedly said what a billion Africans are thinking: "Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered!"

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