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The NATO Summit and Obama’s much ado over a Polish court


At the NATO summit in Warsaw President Barack Obama berated his Polish hosts about their commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

In particular, he defended self-righteously an “independent judiciary,” which the Polish government had allegedly undermined. That’s rich coming from America’s chief executive who has routinely ignored the U.S. Constitution, packed the courts, and ruled by presidential fiat. Obama’s criticism was as misplaced as that of his party comrade, Bill Clinton, who levied similarly baseless accusations at Warsaw, charging it with the alleged “Putinization” of its democratic system.

At the heart of it all is Poland’s current political crisis regarding the so-called “Constitutional Tribunal.” It has produced a legal and political stalemate in Warsaw, hectoring editorials in the West, and demonstrations and panel discussions in and out of Poland.

What’s the fuss all about?

We are told that the new Law and Justice Party’s (whose Polish abbreviation is PiS) government is threatening the tri-division of power, impinging upon the independent judiciary as allegedly embodied in Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal (CT).

Yet, others, including outside observers like Walter Laqueur note that the avalanche of commentary critical of the new, center-right Polish government is rather the result of Polish liberal-leftists influencing their friends in the Western media. Those who share that view maintain that the newly elected Parliament is simply attempting to deal with the contradictions and legacies of the Communist era which have remained unattended for 25 years for reasons of political convenience. The Parliament’s initiative enjoys the backing of the President, Andrzej Duda.

The crisis stems not from a legal issue but a political one.

To continue reading this article, please visit Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.