By Michal KRUPA
In Poland these days it is becoming dangerous to one’s career to publicly voice opposition to the government’s policy vis-à-vis the war in Ukraine.
Leszek Sykulski, a well-known and popular expert in geopolitics, is a case in point. A few days ago, Sykulski spearheaded the launch of the Polish Anti-War Movement, which aims to become a grassroots platform uniting Poles opposed to the overtly anti-Russian, pro-war and pro-interventionist agenda of the political elites and mainstream media.
A few days later it was revealed that Sykulski was fired from his teaching position at the Józef Goluchowski Academy of Applied Sciences in Ostrowiec Switokrzyski. The rector of the academy, Pawel Gotowiecki, was not shy in justifying his decision on purely political grounds. Here’s what Gotowiecki said in an interview with Radio Ostrowiec on Feb. 16:
“I regret that Dr. Leszek Sykulski, undoubtedly a gifted didactician, highly regarded by students, has decided to de facto abandon scientific and didactic activity in favor of socio-political activity, and to such an extent. I regret that the views that Dr. Sykulski is proclaiming at the moment, the people he surrounds himself with, are so socially controversial, while the theses that he puts forward are contrary not only to my personal views, the values that our university adheres to, because we are involved in helping Ukraine and Ukrainians, which is questioned by the Polish Anti-War Movement, but also harm the Polish raison d’etat.”
I reached out to Sykulski for a comment on this development and in a text message he informed me that:
“On [Feb.2], I received notice of termination at the Academy of Applied Sciences in Ostrowiec. Earlier, I was removed from teaching students in all fields of study. The reason was the founding of the Polish Anti-War Movement and the negative reaction of state authorities, including a phone call from the Ministry of Education and Science and a personal visit to the academy by Law and Justice politicians.”
Earlier in 2022, Sykulski was vociferously attacked for conducting an interview with the Russian ambassador in Poland just a few days after the initiation of hostilities in Ukraine. He has become, along with the consistently anti-war MP Grzegorz Braun, the target of the ruling elite’s hatred, which throws around the usual accusations of being a Putin stooge, Russian agent, going along with the “Kremlin narrative.”
All this for simply reiterating the obvious points that the current war was not “unprovoked,” that Poland should not act as a subservient agent of the Kiev regime’s wishes and desires, that it is not in the Polish interest to remain a compliant and willing accomplice to the White House’s stated goal of “wanting to see Russia weakened.”
Rational positions that are, however, a bridge too far for the Polish establishment and its media allies.
One of the components of the Polish Anti-War Movement’s activism is a billboard campaign designed to spread the message that “This is not our war.” Some have already been displayed in Polish cities.
This has created a paradoxical situation in which many of Sykulski’s detractors accuse him of spreading Russian propaganda because the message “this is not our war” apparently falsifies the reality that Poland is already de facto at war with Russia, while implying that Warsaw should go all in.
Despite the Polish state’s active role in NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine, not only is Poland not in a formal state of war with the Russian Federation, but according to polling out of Hungary conducted by Project Europe Research of Századvég Foundation and published in December 2022, a clear majority of Poles want to see the end of hostilities.
#Gliwice #ToNieNaszaWojna #PolskiRuchAntywojenny pic.twitter.com/uBsE2woa2I
— Leszek Sykulski (@SykulskiLeszek) February 17, 2023
According to a recent report, Poles remain supportive of sending weapons to Ukraine, but a clear majority is opposed to sending Polish soldiers as part of a NATO mission to Ukraine.
As in mid mid-2022, only 17 percent of those surveyed are in favor of such a move. It would seem then that the Polish Anti-War Movement has fertile ground to spread its message and educating the Polish public opinion on the necessity of non-intervention and non-escalation, negating the supposedly “obvious” truth that we are at war already and should just resign ourselves, as Polish citizens, to going along with the program of U.S. officials Victoria Nuland, Jake Sullivan and Antony Blinken.
Far from harming the Polish raison d’etat, as Sykulski’s former employer put it, the Polish Anti-War Movement is acting in the interests of the Polish people.
Before World War II the Polish president-elect, among many other solemn obligations contained in the oath of office, swore to “turn away evil and danger from the State.” Currently there is no higher service than advocating for averting the danger of entangling the Polish state in a full-fledged war with Russia, even at the cost of getting one’s career cut down by petty and spineless bureaucrats.
Sykulski is not backing down from setting an example for civic action against NATO direct involvement in Ukraine.
Poland is at an inflection point in its history, where the lives of millions of people and the national security of Poland can be jeopardized further by a reckless decision. Looking at the current crop of Polish politicians, from the government to the supposed “opposition” in the parliament, united in their irrational hatred of Russia and repulsive subservience to Kiev, one cannot refrain from paraphrasing Charles de Gaulle — war is too serious a matter to be left to politicians. Polish citizens now have a platform for stating clearly and loudly: this is not our war.