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A moment of respect

Nobody on this blog has yet commented on the terrible events near Smolensk in Russia yesterday morning, so I will take a brief moment to do so myself.

President Lech KaczyŠ„ski of Poland was probably best described as a conservative rather than a liberal, and was not someone who the people on this blog would agree with on everything. However, he was someone who lived under tyranny, and when faced with the question of whether you give in to such a tyranny or stand up to it, he stood up to it, and he spent a considerable time in prison as a consequence. Most of us are fortunate not to be tested in such a way, but here was a man who was tested and passed the test. For that he deserves immense respect. He was also about as pro-American and pro-Western as possible. For that also, he has my thanks.

I am shaken, I suspect with much of the population of Poland, by the horrible historical irony. 88 members of the Polish elite, including pretty much the entire top brass of the Polish armed forces, died near Katyn forest yesterday morning. This is terrible. My sympathy to the friends and family of all these good people.

21 comments to A moment of respect

  • I remember with sadness seeing a brief mention a few days ago that all these Poles would be flying to commemorate the Katyn massacre, and thinking what a good thing it was that the Russians were acknowledging it at last.

    One particularly sad aspect is that some family members of the victims of the massacre were also aboard the plane.

  • I am replete.

    Considering KaczyŠ„ski’s record, it would appear that he was a person who could have been trusted to stand up for the people of Poland. This air crash was convenient for those who might not have had the best interests of the Polish people at heart Wasn’t there some friction somewhere about a Polish oil/gas pipeline?

  • John B

    The death of Wladyslaw Sikorski in 1943, taking off from Gibraltar, would seem to have a very sad historical tie.


  • Sunfish

    I guess polonium-210 poisoning would have been too obvious.

  • RAB

    Yes, talk about putting eggs in one basket, I’m waiting for the conspiracy theories too Sunfish.

    All these important folk flying on a plane that is known to be well dodgy, so dodgy that the Russians themselves have grounded their own fleet?

    We will see what we are allowed to see, but we lost a lot of good people and allies with that plane.

  • Tendryakov

    Yes RAB, flying on a plane known to be dodgy, and one would assume that the top brass of Poland would also have known the plane was dodgy, and thus flew in it knowing that. I bet they were in the employ of – ssh – you know who.

    Here is a tribute from a man who really knew them well:


  • Johnathan Pearce

    Well said.

  • Classic CFIT, no need for conspiracy theories. Bad weather and the pilot decided to keep trying rather than divert.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Jennings has written something that needed to be written. I also wish to express my support for the people of Poland in this sad time.

  • RAB

    Slight misreading of my post here I think.
    I didn’t say I “believed” in a conspiracy theory, only that it was odds on that you were going to get one.
    I think it was just a tragic accident. Lech Walesa has said that the President may have overruled the pilots and demanded the plane be landed. He had previous in that respect.

    Then again the Russians could have been playing silly buggers as mentioned in the above article.

    But there is no doubt that there are those in Russia and the EU, who are not as upset about the crash as us freedom lovers here are. Like I said in my original post, we lost some good friends and allies on that plane.

  • Not sure why people back off so much from so-called “conspiracy theories”. Most of them are pretty straightforward statements of facts, and are often well-documented as such. Anyone not suspicious about this crash (and the deafening quiet from mainstream media) is surely incapable of thinking for themselves.


  • Not sure why people back off so much from so-called “conspiracy theories”.

    Because they are usually wild conjecture or simply delusional.

    And if you think 95% of CFIT accidents like this have survivors, you clearly ain’t very well informed about aviation.

  • “In fact, according to the US government, 95.7 percent of the passengers involved in aviation accidents make it out alive. That’s right. When the National Transportation Safety Board studied accidents between 1983 and 2000 involving 53,487 passengers, they found that 51,207 survived. That’s 95.7 percent. When you exclude crashes in which no one had a chance of surviving – like Pan Am 103 – the NTSB says the survival rate in the most serious crashes is 76.6 percent. In other words, if your plane crashes, you aren’t necessarily doomed, just like the passengers on US Air 1549 in the Hudson.”
    Agencies have a long, illustrious and well-documented history of engineering assassinations of key politicians. You can’t afford to be naive about these things.

  • Alice

    Someone in the Samizdata commentariat is linking to an article in huffingtonpost? And not to mock said article?

    These truly are the Final Days!

  • Alice: took the words out of my mouth!

  • Laird

    FWIW, at least one Polish MP is blaming the Russians.

  • The best thing in the Charles Crawford article that Tendryakov quotes above is this

    Yesterday on BBC and CNN I was asked whether Poland would slump into political instability, so many top people being lost in this disaster. I replied, “of course not”.

    After the cold war, Poland decided to join the west, and the country has pursued this end rather ferociously since. They have succeeded. Go east from Frankfurt an-der Oder, and Poland is the next country. Stuff works. The institutions and the rule of law are sound. Once they figure out that you are friendly towards them, they are hugely warm and friendly back. (Answering yes to “Would you like some vodka?” can be dangerous though). The country is politically stable. That means that if most of the general staff is killed, then other officers will be promoted early and some will return from retirement, and the military will continue to function fine. One of the central bank deputies will step up to replace the previous head. A peaceful presidential election will occur.

    As it happens, I am in Poland right now. Just a coincidence – I booked the trip some time ago. I have been watching Polish TV for the last couple of hours, and it endless footage of people walking past the caskets of the President and First Lady lying in state, mixed with pictures of military guards carrying flag covered caskets onto aircraft, mixed with interviews with friends of people who died in the plane crash, mixed with footage of the President in happier times. But on the ground, life goes on. The country is absolutely horrified by what has happened, but it will cope just fine.