Russia's Intervention in Syria Gets Support From Unlikeliest of Places

© AP Photo / Alik KepliczA Polish national flag waves above the Zamkowy Square as people stop to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014
A Polish national flag waves above the Zamkowy Square as people stop to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 - Sputnik International
Support for Russia's air campaign in Syria appears to be gaining steam in Poland, with a wave of pro-Russian commentary appearing on Polish social media and causing embarrassment for the country's traditional, anti-Russian media, news and analysis magazine Mysl Polska has discovered.

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Sifting through Polish-language online forums and social media over the past few days, the Mysl Polska explained that if a year ago, "these same forums were full of entries about 'Putler' as a threat to the entire world," today the situation is very different, with "millions of people shocked" out of complacency by the hundreds of thousands of refugees coming from Syria, and by "the US and the West's apparent tolerance of the murderous Islamic State."

According to the magazine, "ordinary people just cannot understand how it can be that instead of supporting Russia in its war against ISIL, the West is doing everything it can to try and make the intervention look loathsome."

The article explains that "the latest wave of primitive lies coming from leading Western media sources" and their counterparts in Poland have "awakened people to the fact that they have been crudely manipulated. Never before has the gap between public opinion and the media been so great."

And if "for some time the Poles, always susceptible to anti-Russian provocations, have allowed themselves to be led by the nose…now they have spotted the mechanisms of such manipulation and lies." 

"The more the media attempt to convince the Polish people that Putin, rather than Obama, Cameron and Hollande is the one responsible for destabilizing the Middle East, the greater the frustration and rage among the Poles becomes. Nobody likes it when someone tries to make a fool out of them and treats them like an imbecile."

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Accordingly, the magazine suggests that "what is happening now…may be of paramount importance as far as the future is concerned. This is the most significant moment in the moral crisis facing the West and its ideology."

The magazine illustrates this thought by pointing to a slew of comments over an article on the Russian intervention in Syria on Wirtualna Polska, one of the country's largest web portals and the country's leading online news source. Commenting on the article, written by Rzeczpospolita journalist Jedrzej Bielecki, entitled "Putin Provoked the Jihad," Mysl Polska points to dozens of responses to the piece, and their resounding support for the Russian initiative.

"I hope that the Russian forces wipe the floor with Al-Qaeda and the other terrorist organizations operating there and restore law and order," one user noted. "Well done, Putin. The Islamists need to be exterminated and only then will there be peace of mind. The only reasonable president," another added.

"[Bielecki's] article is written in such a tone as to give one the impression that this scribbler is on the side of the Islamic State. Scandal!" another user commented. "Bielecki is distraught over the fact that Russia has taken on the terrorists?" another asked in disbelief.

The Russian initiative in Syria brought out rejoicing from pro-Russian Poles, rarely seen in the Polish media space. "Putin, I love you!" one user wrote, adding that the president's initiative on Syria has inspired him to begin refreshing his rusty Russian skills. "What is even the issue here?" he asked Bielecki. Another commentator went so far as to say that "Poles would do well to join with Russia."

Other commentators offered more measured praise, while simultaneously criticizing Polish, American and NATO policy. "There are situations in life in which one cannot be neutral," one such commentator noted. "One is either for or against! This time, I support the Russian initiative in Syria 100%. NATO's policy in the Middle East has been an absurdity for years now," the user added.

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"What is this bull****?," another commentator angrily asked. "The Russians want to deal with these rogue Islamist fundamentalists, who slaughter people of other faiths, and are a threat to the world, and suddenly this does not fit into the West's agenda? When the Americans clumsily started doing something they were greeted with a 'hooray'. And now? And who is it that actually depends on the future destabilization of the Middle East, and who really wants to restore actual order, and why?"

Ultimately, it is doubtful that the apparent gap emerging between the Polish establishment and public opinion on the issue of Russia's military campaign in Syria could force the country's political class to take a humbling second look at the country's stubbornly anti-Russian foreign policy. However, perhaps it will, as Mysl Polska suggests, at least lead ordinary Poles to reevaluate their attitudes toward their eastern neighbor. After all, unlike their allies across the ocean, Poland, together with the rest of Europe, is already facing the social consequences of the West's misadventures in the Middle East.

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