Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Pole who saved the world, and taught a lesson nobody is listening to

If you go here, you'll find a column on Col. Ryszard Kuklinski by an author who attended a seminar on him and his role in preventing WWIII at Langley (CIA HQ.)


I have the book on the stack of "must reads" that only seems to get taller. I think I'll move it up in the queue.

As some of you know, my father-in-law was an officer in the Polish military at the time of the events described, which lends the affair a certain interest for me. The impression I get from him is that a fair number of Polish officers thought Kuklinski was a patriot and hero, who did what a lot of them would have liked to have done.

It says something disturbing about our political and academic culture that this story is so little-known. This man, more than any other single individual, may have literally saved the world.

All evidence from the unimpeachable source, the former Soviets themselves, now shows that the invasion of Western Europe and the initiation of World War III by the Soviet Union was a "when," not an "if."

What saved the world, or at least Europe, was American military readiness, espionage, and the crucial information supplied by this man.

Gestures of good will, the philosophy of peaceful coexistence, all the enlightened attitudes of western intellectuals counted for precisely nothing.

Is this why this story is being, can we say, "militantly ignored"?

Have they forgotten the lesson of Archimedes?

"But nothing afflicted Marcellus so much as the death of Archimedes, who was then, as fate would have it, intent upon working out some problem by a diagram, and having fixed his mind alike and his eyes upon the subject of his speculation, he never noticed the incursion of the Romans, nor that the city was taken. In this transport of study and contemplation, a soldier, unexpectedly coming up to him, commanded him to follow to Marcellus; which he declining to do before he had worked out his problem to a demonstration, the soldier, enraged, drew his sword and ran him through."

Plutarch, Parallel Lives: Marcellus. Translated by John Dryden


  • At 4:23 PM, Blogger dchamil said…

    This is an interesting piece by David Stokes. Alas, it is marred by spelling Kuklinski's first name two different ways, finally settling on the wrong one!

  • At 4:32 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    Alas indeed. Particularly so when you consider that though Polish spelling looks nightmarish, it's actually quite phonetic - more so than English.

    Ryszard (Richard) is pronounced something like REE-shard.

    I say "something like" because Polish has about 66 basic phonemes, 50% more than English. Before I learned to speak Polish, I had to learn to HEAR it.


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