Saturday, February 11, 2006

Strange Days in Poland

Imagine a government led by Pat Robertson. Scary, right? Well, Poland may be the closest thing to a "700 Club" fantasy on the face of the earth. Take the governing "Law and Justice" party, which backs conservative favorites, like "traditional values", and an agenda that is full of 'antis' like gay, immigrant and EU. Oddly, the party backs a generous social welfare network, not something Pat and his crew would likely take a shining to although in synch with other populist parties. Now, Law and Justice won parliamentary elections back in September, but they didn't win enough seats to form a government. So, what do they do? Turn to even smaller, and more rightwing parties to govern. It's getting pretty scary in Poland.

How bad is it in ultra-conservative Catholic Poland? Just ask Alicja Tysiac. She is pretty close to blind and wears really think glasses to see. Last year, three eye specialists warned her she risked going completely blind if she took her third pregnancy to term. Slightly freaked, Tysiac sought frantically for a doctor to give her an okay to abort the pregnancy. Legal under communism, abortion is now illegal in Poland, unless the health of the mother or child is at risk. Tysiac did finally find one doctor who did agree having the child would threaten her eyesight. However, when she went to a Warsaw hospital, the staff there didn't see it that way(pardon the weak pun), and refused to do it. After the birth, Tysiac's vision did deteriorate. Now, the single-parent Tysiac sits at home in Warsaw, next to blind and living off a meager monthly welfare check. It won't bring back her vision, but Tysiac has taken her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Robertson wouldn't be the only American-that-mattered to be all a titter with Poland. Our Prez, Mr. Bush has called Poland America's best European ally outside of Britain, and its poodle quizzling, Tony Blair. Chalk that up in part to a strong ethnic Polish lobby in the U.S., (Chicago has the highest concentration of Poles outside of Warsaw) whose feverish anti-Communist has ingrained a strong pro-US stance. During the Iraqi quagmire, Poland has stood at attention saluting commandante Bush. Remember the "Coalition of the Willing" El Salvador ecetera in Iraq? Well Poland is still there, even though their 1,500 troops were set to come home in January. (While most Poles are Yankie-friendly, like all Europeans most do not support the U.S.-led war in Iraq.)But the Law and Justice Party said nope, and now the Poles will remain in southern Iraq. And those furtive CIA prisons in Eastern Europe? Yep, Poland is said to house at least one of them along with fellow top suspect Romania. It's not all that eye-brow-raising given that Poland's Defense Minister Radek Sikorski is a committed neo-conservative who worked as a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he toiled alongside such neo-con stalwarts Michael Ledeen and Richard Perle.

According to Insider Magazine, Sikorski has a spooks past working for the CIA. Polish intelligence sources report that Sikorski became a U.S. intelligence asset during the Reagan Cold War years. Sikorski was a Solidarity leader in the 1970s. He was visiting Britain in 1981 when martial law was declared in Poland. In 1984 Sikorski became a British citizen.

Sikorski operated under the cover of a journalist in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan during the mid 1980s and in Angola in the late 1980s where he liaised with pro-U.S. UNITA guerrillas backed by apartheid South Africa and noted GOP activists, including recently convicted Jack Abramoff as well as Karl Rove friend and adviser Grover Norquist.

Some in Europe, including ol' French President Jacques Chirac, look warily at Poland, fearing Warsaw is a fifth column doing the bidding of Washington at the expense of efforts to build an EU superstate, complete with a robust foreign policy outside of Washington's control.

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