Lech Walesa's vision of global harmony

Walesa made no mention of terrorism until 'The Jerusalem Post' questioned him about it.

LECH WALESA 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy )
(photo credit: Courtesy )
"If not for Lech Walesa, I would not be here in Israel, not only for lack of diplomatic relations, but because I never worked for the Communists," Polish Ambassador to Israel Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska said Sunday night. Addressing local business leaders at a reception in Tel Aviv to mark the presence in Israel of UniCredit Markets & Investment Banking, under whose auspices Walesa came here, she proudly introduced "the first president of a free and independent Poland and the founder of Solidarity," and recalled that one of Walesa's first acts after assuming office was to renew diplomatic relations with Israel. Other speakers were also lavish in their praise of Walesa, crediting him with bringing democracy to Poland. UniCredit was founded and is headquartered in Italy, but has banking operations in 23 countries, including Poland, and an international network spanning 50 countries. Its presence in Israel is a Polish initiative. Describing himself as "a politician and a revolutionary," Walesa said he was not sure he was the right person to talk about economy and business, adding, "I'm merely a consumer." But as a revolutionary, he said, he was extremely happy that relations between Poland and Israel were progressing so well. Time has been kind to Walesa. Except for his graying hair and moustache, he does not look much different than the Gdansk Free Trade Union activist, who, after being sacked from the Lenin Shipyard in August 1980, was one of the leaders of a strike that set off a wave of solidarity strikes. The strikes sparked a political movement that fired the imagination and yearnings of the Polish people and, a decade later, swept the former unemployed dockyard worker into the presidential palace. Implying that the Middle East would do well to take note of what has evolved in Europe, Walesa said Europe used to be divided and confrontational. But the divisions have by and large been toppled, he said, "and we are now left with the task of leveling the proportions. You can now see the huge business potential in Eastern and Central Europe because we have established the United States of Europe." Opportunities for new business initiatives are smaller in developed countries than they are in underdeveloped countries, because the latter have to do so much catching up, Walesa said, referring to European countries that gained independence with the fall of communism. Yet the growth of Eastern and Central European economies worries him. Many years ago, Walesa said, a rabbi, perceiving an unhappy expression on his face, had asked him what was wrong, and he had replied that things were not going so well and the revolution was too challenging. To which the rabbi had responded: "You shouldn't take it so hard, because if things are so bad, they can only improve." Now, at the opposite end of the spectrum, Walesa said when he sees that things are so good, he starts to worry that they could deteriorate. Walesa forecast that Europe will eventually become a federation like the United States of America, and that only 50 years down the line the world will be able to tackle globalization and evaluate its effects. One of the major problems resulting from globalization, according to Walesa, is that less than 10 percent of mankind owns more than 90% of the business potential. "In the long run, this economic disproportion will not be sustainable," he said. Walesa said he was not suggesting another revolution, but pointed to the inherent dangers of too few people having too much control. "Anyone not directly involved in ownership will support demagogues and populists in elections, who will reward their supporters with assets that don't really belong to them, and this will undermine the economy," he warned. To prevent such a situation, he said, something must be done to triple the number of people owning property. No other generation has had such opportunities for peace, prosperity and stability, Walesa said. "The world has entered a new era of intellect, information and globalization," he said, "and we need to debate how to safeguard the potential of this new era, because the organization of the world, politically and economically, has exhausted itself." While painting a picture of increasing global harmony, Walesa made no mention of terrorism until The Jerusalem Post questioned him about it. After the end of communism, the world remained badly organized, he replied, adding: "We have the United Nations, but that was established at a different time to deal with different problems. We are left with one superpower, but we don't know what its place should be. New issues such as terrorism have emerged, but we don't know how to fight terrorism because we were never previously confronted with this problem on such a scale. "This superpower is a military and economic leader, and although its economy is somewhat in decline at the moment, we should allow this super power to go ahead on the issue of terrorism." Politicians, like old soldiers never die, they merely fade away. Walesa said he hoped to see the United States of Europe, of which he would be president, and that this entity would then federate with the United States of America, where, hopefully, he would again be voted into office, and then the combined United States of Europe and the United States of America would federate with the United States of Asia and establish global unity. "That will give me something to do for the next hundred years," he quipped.