As Poland celebrated Constitution Day, leading figures in the worlds of public policy, defense strategy, and academia began a high-level discussion in Chicago. Organized by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, the General Ryszard Kukliński Museum, and the Polish National Foundation, this event focused on defeating communism and preserving national sovereignty in the context of the transatlantic relationship.
It was particularly meaningful that the pivotal discussion was dedicated to General Kukliński — rightfully dubbed “the first Polish officer in NATO.” It was at the behest of one of the three discussants, Minister Antoni Macierewicz, that Ryszard Kukliński was posthumously promoted from colonel to brigadier general.
Aptly moderated by Charles Lipson, who is Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he was the Peter B. Ritzma Professor in Political Science, the other discussants were retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Guy “Tom” Cosentino, the 28th Commandant of the National War College, and Steven F. Hayward, Senior Resident Scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
The decision of General Kukliński to collaborate with the U.S. was a consequence of his knowledge about the imperialist plans of the Soviet Union and of those of its puppet Wojciech Jaruzelski, who ruled in Warsaw at the time. From this moment, the independence of Poland started to be not only of interest that nation, but also of vital importance — a life-and-death matter — for all of Europe.
Unfortunately, the crash of communism did not conclusively resolve this question. Perestroika was only a geopolitical maneuver, backed by post-communist groups, aiming towards the diminution of American influence in Europe. The building of political capital for the Polish independence movement was a lengthy and arduous one. It started with the government of Prime Minister Jan Olszewski, which derived from the first free election in Poland since World War II.
Four years ago, Minister Macierewicz delivered an address at Rutgers University about the need for a Central and Eastern European alliance with the U.S. as the bedrock for stabilizing Europe, guaranteeing security from growing Russian imperialism with a strong posture of deterrence. The concept of a Euro-Atlantic alliance, conceived in the Second Polish Republic as Intermarium, has since the 1970s formed the basis for the Polish independence movement in the realm of geopolitics.
Poland and the U.S. are joined as two countries whose source of vitality are shared values and the consequent willingness to defend freedom with military might. The fountainhead of this determination was aptly indicated in the speech of President Donald Trump in July 2017. He spoke at Krasiński Square at the monument to Warsaw Uprising combatants: "Together, with Pope John Paul II, the Poles reasserted their identity as a nation devoted to God. And with that powerful declaration of who you are, you came to understand what to do and how to live. You stood in solidarity against oppression, against a lawless secret police, against a cruel and wicked system that impoverished your cities and your souls. And you won. Poland prevailed. Poland will always prevail.”
In 2017 negotiations were initiated between Poland and the United States regarding increasing the presence of the U.S. Army in Poland and building permanent bases for at least one armored division, popularly known as Fort Trump. There is no doubt that only a military force that is centered around U.S. troops can guarantee the independence of Central and Eastern Europe. Let us not stop halfway! Russia understands only strength; it is solely the U.S. that today has sufficient military might to deter the Russians.
If the forces in the European Union are not balanced, if Fort Trump does not materialize, and if energy security is not enhanced, we will open the way for a continental alliance in which Central and Eastern Europe will be subordinated to the Russian game plan. Tragic experiences in modern history act as a forewarning.
We must remember the role of Russia in supporting such villainous regimes as Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, China, and North Korea. We must recall the 2010 aircraft disaster over Smolensk — at last under valid investigation — which took the life of the Polish President and other celebrants of the victims of Russian barbarism at Katyn, a 1942 mass extermination of Polish elites that Russia attempted for decades to blame on its erstwhile German ally. A thorough investigation into this aviation disaster is key to highlighting the necessity of security in the Euro-Atlantic sphere, and to all nations that value independence. It is essentially as important as the liberation of the parts of Ukraine and Georgia, currently under Russian occupation, as well as the eventual incorporation of Ukraine into the Three Seas Initiative.
Although the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have gained the ability to craft their own destiny, with Poland, in particular, serving as a bulwark against the evil empire — Russia, it is still a process which depends upon global realities, including Russia’s efforts to subvert NATO, the European Union, and the values of Western civilization.
Miraculously, Poland halted Russian imperialistic aggression as it sought to sweep over Europe in 1920 under Trotsky. Poland’s Solidarity movement helped crush communism and, owing to the determination of President Ronald Reagan and Saint John Paul the Great, the Berlin Wall was toppled. Fort Trump will serve as an enduring memorial to this legacy, to the heroism of General Kukliński, and, of course, to the leadership of President Trump.
Now the Warsaw NATO Summit and the American decision to protect the Eastern Flank of NATO, as well as the materialization of Fort Trump, will have the same consequence: inhibiting Russian imperialist aggression and its efforts for domination of Europe.
Edmund Janniger is the Director of the International Security Forum, an institution under the patronage of the Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Poland. His work at the Ministry of National Defense encompasses academic affairs and global engagement. Mr. Janniger holds the record as the youngest sub-cabinet official in Poland’s history. In the Parliamentary Office, Mr. Janniger has been the Deputy Chief of Staff to Minister Antoni Macierewicz and, during the 2015 elections, was the Deputy Campaign Manager for Law and Justice in the 10th District. Mr. Janniger has a proven track record directing complex political and policy-related matters. He holds an adjunct appointment at Marconi University, and was elected by the full Rutgers University Senate to three terms on its Executive Committee. Mr. Janniger splits his time between the Warsaw and New York metropolitan areas, has one young dog, and is an avid hiker. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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