In the years following World War II, the single deadliest war in the history of mankind, another threat was on the rise. The Soviet Union quickly became America’s chief rival during this new bipolar global order. Two nations, two nuclear powers; one forged in a poisonous ideology, class warfare, and bloodshed; the other on individual freedom, self-government, and the idea that all men are created equal under God. Both had the power to destroy humanity with the push of a button. But 74 years ago, the United States and its allies signed the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington, D.C., forming what became the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This signaled a commitment to defending liberty and democracy from the threat of communism.
Today we face a similar threat, once again, from the iron fist of totalitarianism born out of the false promise of communism. Like the Soviet Union, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will stop at nothing to spread its malign influence around the globe and trap nations into total submission to its centralized power. Disguising its authoritarian control as economic aid, China has trapped many developing nations into one-sided deals.
Like Joseph Stalin, Xi Jinping has no reservations about the bodies he steps over to achieve his goals. Not since the end of the Cold War has NATO and American leadership been so critical to stopping the spread of communism, the systematic destruction of liberty, and the genocidal persecution of religious and political minorities.
By the time the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) collapsed in 1991, NATO had grown from its 12 founding members to 16. Today, that number has nearly doubled, with several more formally asking to join. Among the newest and most vehemently anti-communist members is our ally, Poland. Once caught between the battle lines of the Third Reich and the Red Army, the Poles know firsthand what it means to live under tyranny and authoritarianism. For the entirety of the Cold War, Poland was one of Russia’s most strategic border nations, serving as a buffer between Moscow and NATO. Since its democratization, Poland has been a staunch ally of the United States and a close friend in Eastern Europe.
But Polish-U.S. relations long precedes the Cold War. During the Revolutionary War, a young Polish officer named Thaddeus Kosciuszko walked into a small shop in Philadelphia owned by Benjamin Franklin and offered to enlist in the Continental Army. Motivated by his ideals and a fire to defend our yet-to-be-born republic, Kosciuszko played a pivotal role in ensuring an American victory. In what would become one of the most crucial triumphs for the Americans, Kosciuszko was the mastermind behind the fortifications on the Hudson River during the Battle of Saratoga, driving away waves of advancing Red Coats and saving colonial supply lines from being cut off by British forces.
Kosciuszko’s legacy extends beyond the American Revolution. Upon returning home, he led an uprising against the authoritarian Russian czars and Prussian forces. Although his uprising failed, it set a precedent for Polish politics for centuries and has served as inspiration for other Eastern European nations oppressed by Moscow. Following the war, the general remained close friends with Thomas Jefferson, including the president in his will, and advocated intensely for the emancipation of enslaved people. The fortifications that still surround my alma mater, West Point, were designed by Gen. Kosciuszko. Without his influence or military prowess, the United States might not be what it is today.
On the 150th anniversary of Gen. Kosciuszko’s enlistment, Stephen Mizwa, an associate professor of economics at Drake University and a Polish immigrant, established the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York. The foundation is dedicated to promoting educational and cultural ties between the United States and Poland.
That’s also why I introduced the General Thaddeus Kosciuszko Memorial Exchange Program For Polish-American Defense Cooperation Act on the anniversary of NATO’s founding. This legislation recognizes the legacy of Gen. Kosciuszko by establishing an exchange program between the Special Operations Forces (SOF) of our nations.
These are the kinds of bonds that create an alliance strong enough to stand up against forces like Communist China and the Vladimir Putin regime. Xi Jinping’s alliances are based on exploitation and military dominance, with all roads leading back to the creation of a Jinping dynasty. For Xi’s regime, there are no friendships that aren’t subservient to the aim of the Communist Party. The friendships of the U.S. and our NATO allies run much deeper. Whether our alliances were forged in the fires of the American Revolution, the trenches of World War I, the beaches of Normandy, the mountains of Afghanistan and deserts of Iraq, or even from the courage of a single patriot like Kosciuszko—the free world needs NATO. And if we are going to stand up to another Communist regime for the second time in less than a century—we’ll need some backup.
Source : The Hill