Poland has always been in Europe's front line. A long time ago, in 1683, Vienna was beseiged by the Turkish army, seeking to expand the Islamic sphere of influence. It was the Polish king Jan Sobieski who brought his army over the Tatras and relieved them.
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In more recent times, we should remember the role of the Polish Air Force which fought with the RAF in the Battle of Britain, and of the Polish Resistance, which consistently sabotaged the Nazi war effort. It has been said that one result was to delay the attack on Soviet Russia for several weeks, as a result of which the German army was caught in winter weather, for which they were not prepared - and despite further advances, they never really recovered from their failure to capture Moscow. Later in the war, Polish sabotage interfered with the transport of oil into Germany from the east, a favourite ploy being to place delayed-action incendiaries under trains, which would ignite once safely inside Germany.
In 1944, there was the Warsaw uprising, when the Soviet army treacherously halted its advance and allowed the city and its people to be pounded into ruins by the Germans, not crossing the River Vistula until this was complete. This paved the way to making it easier to install their puppet politicians after the war, Poland having been betrayed by the west at the Yalta conference, which allocated the country to the Soviet sphere of influence.
Then we need to remember the role of Polish free trade unionists and the Polish Pope in helping the final overthrow of the Communist system in an almost bloodless revolution which almost no-one could have foreseen.
Sadly, the country does not seem to have got its economic policy in order - like many former Communist bloc countries, it is not going to thrive with the kind of tax policy we have in the west. Replacing taxes on labour and capital by a tax on land is going to be part of the solution, unfortunately it does not seem to be part of the economic vocabulary.
lördag 19 augusti 2006
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