28 February 2012

The Joys of Realpolitik

My thanks go to to the excellent James Bloodworth who tweeted this item earlier today (James writes for the Independent and has an excellent blog called Obliged To Offend. The tweet relates to an item on Spiegel Online wjich reveals that the British government in the 80s would have shafted Solidarity

The article states that German chancellor Helmut Schmidt appeared to be the only top Western politician who was skeptical about the Polish trade union Solidarity in the early 1980s.  However, it now seems that Thatcher was also had deep reservations about the movement and its leader Lech Walesa.

New evidence, reported in Monday's SPIEGEL magazine reveals British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was suspicious about the influential movement and Lech Walesa, the man who later became a Nobel Laureate.

In September 1981, British Premier Thatcher even considered supporting the Eastern bloc regime in Warsaw in quelling Solidarity. This is according to a declassified German Foreign Ministry document.
 According to the document, Thatcher's Foreign Secretary, Lord Peter Carrington, told colleagues in New York that Britain sympathizied with Solidarity. But if Solidarity got out of control and the government had to take repressive measures, it might make sense to help the government, he added.

Carrington had earlier outlined the UK's position, saying that his government only backed Solidarity out of respect for public opinion, but that perhaps, from a more rational position, they would actually be "on the side of the Polish government".

Back then, Warsaw was threatened with insolvency and Thatcher evidently feared that the demands of the workers' movement could trigger a Soviet invasion. A few months later, the Polish communist Leader Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law and the US invoked economic sanctions against Poland. Britain, however, avoided levying sanctions on the country.

The imposition of martial law was a setback for Solidarity. About 100 "political dissidents" died in internment camps. But it did not prevent Solidarity from helping to bring about the end of communist rule in 1989-90.

To be honest this does not surprise me. While I despise Thatcher and her minions, I know that  any other British government would have shafted Solidarnosc in a heartbeat. Western governments pay lip service to freedom and human rights but are happy to cozy up to the nastiest of regimes if it means trade and profit... Look at our relationship with Saudi Arabia for proof of that.


SnoopyTheGoon said...

Your conclusion is a bull's eye. Indeed, ability of politicians to sell anyone down the river for perceived profit is mind-boggling.

jams o donnell said...

It's called realpolitik, which means fuck the proles so to speak

Francis Sedgemore said...

Not to mention that worker self-organisation is ideological anathema to the Objectivist crowd who ruled the capitalist world at the time of Solidarność.

jams o donnell said...

There is that too

Sean Jeating said...

Interestingly, not when looking at the German, French, Hungarian, Italian, not even when looking at the Polish, but in the English Wikepedia entry General Jaruzelski's photo would be crowned by 'His Excellency'.

As for Thatcher: Any person who'd call Pinochet ' my dear friend Augusto' deserves to be graced by the depletive of your choice.
As she's a handbag-fetishist: What about scumbag?

jams o donnell said...

An all round vile person is Margaret Thatcher.

susan said...

You're right about that.

jams o donnell said...

I wish I weren't Susan