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Links I found interesting for 24-09-2012


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 24th, 2012 08:17 am (UTC)
"Why is Poland of all countries selling out to Brussels?" said the Tory. "Do you think we should rely on Britain, like we did in 1939?" came the crisp response.

That seems a very strange response, given that Britain kept its treaty obligation in 1939 and declared war within a couple of days of the German invasion. If it had been a Czech in 1938, or a Pole in 1945, I could have understood it.
Sep. 24th, 2012 09:44 am (UTC)
Yeah, but it didn't exactly do the Poles a lot of good in 1939, did it? Poland was completely occupied by mid-September 1939, and the British didn't do anything much militarily about it until April 1940!
Sep. 24th, 2012 10:01 am (UTC)
Well, I wasn't wanting to push the logic of his comparison too far for fear of Godwin, but if his complaint is that Britain was unable to remove Hitler at a stroke, and that this time the Poles are going to back a winner, the implication for 1939 is what? That Poland would have been better off allying with the Third Reich? It seems a very dodgy analogy politically as well as historically.
Sep. 24th, 2012 11:40 am (UTC)
The context here is of one of Sikorski's Tory friends trying to persuade him that Poland engaging with the EU was undesirable, and Sikorski retorting that Britain in fact didn't have any better alternative to offer, especially considering that last time Britain did offer to help out, the necessary assistance came too late.

It's also a useful corrective for Economist readers who may believe that the British record on WW2 is entirely heroic.
Sep. 24th, 2012 12:43 pm (UTC)
I get that's the point he was making, but honestly he'd have been better off stopping before the "especially" part. It's usually the eurosceptics who choose analogies in which the Reich stands in for the EU, after all!
Sep. 24th, 2012 02:03 pm (UTC)
Did Sikorski actually make an analogy between the European Union and the Third Reich? From the context it seemed to me that, in both cases, Sikorski was rather making a comparison between two very serious challenges for Poland and the good sense (or not) involved in relying on Britain and British advice.
Sep. 24th, 2012 04:59 pm (UTC)
Certainly he didn't mean to say that the EU was like the Third Reich, but the structure of his analogy seems to cast it in that role, which is one reason why I think it was unwise. It's very hard to draw a cordon sanitaire between the aspects of an analogy you want people to focus on and those you'd rather they ignored, as many a hapless politician has discovered.

That was a matter of mere clumsiness, however. My main objection to his words is contained in my first comment. I find it very hard to read Sikorski's remark, especially given the "crispness" with which it was reportedly delivered, other as an implied rebuke for some historical betrayal of Poland by Britain in 1939. But there was no such betrayal (quite the reverse). What should and could Britain have done for Poland in 1939 that it did not do? (Conversely, if he wants to judge countries today by their behaviour in 1939, then why is he advocating a German-led Europe? There are some very strange double-standards being applied here.)

If, however, Sikorski is merely complaining that Britain was not omnipotent either then or now, then - yeah. (And where were the Poles when we needed them in 1066?)

Please note that my objections are not necessarily to his political position (though I don't share it) but to this specific remark.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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