Prof. Paul Goble on the Intermarium and Poland’s new president

In his recent “Window on Eurasia” blog post, Prof. Paul Goble, emphasized the importance of the first foreign trip made by Poland’s newly-elected center-right president, Andrzej Duda, to the Baltic nation of Estonia.

According to Prof. Goble, this signals a return to Poland’s traditional neo-Jagiellonian foreign policy aiming to integrate the nations of Central and Eastern Europe (the Intermarium) into a geopolitical bloc that could constitute the counterweight to Russian and German power in the region. He has also mentioned Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz’s trail-blazing monograph, Intermarium: The Land between the Black and Baltic Seas (Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2012).

By Going to Tallinn on August 23, Poland’s Duda Begins Forming Intermarium
-Paul Goble

By going to Tallinn rather than Berlin on his first foreign trip and by doing so on August 23rd, the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that led to the occupation of Poland and the Baltic countries, Polish President Andrzej Duda has taken a major step toward the formation of an alliance of the countries in between Germany and Russia.

To continue reading this article please visit Prof. Goble’s blog.

Foreign policy of Polish President Andrzej Duda echoes lessons from Kosciuszko Chair conference

by Timothy Krol

On August 6th, 2015, the government of Poland swore in its new President Andrzej Duda, who firmly beat the former President Bronislaw Komorowski in this year’s election. Mr. Duda, who faces a considerable challenge in regards to foreign policy as he takes office, is working to implement policy ideas that were shared at IWP’s Kosciuszko Chair Spring Symposium this past April.

In his inaugural address to the Congress of Poland, President Duda spoke mainly about a major foreign relations problem for Poland: the current conflict in Eastern Ukraine, where Russian intervention is worrying for Poland due to its history of often being a victim of Russian aggression. To counter this threat, Mr. Duda outlined his “four pillars” of defense for Poland, which include the expansion of defense capabilities, further modernization of the armed forces, cooperation with NATO, and deeper defense integration within the European Union.

These plans echo the suggestions made by experts on the region at the recent Kosciuszko Chair conference, which was entitled “Between Russia and NATO: Security Challenges in Central and Eastern Europe,” and took place on April 25.

During this event, Dr. Sebastian Gorka called for greater NATO involvement on the eastern flank of NATO countries, and noted that the flexing of NATO muscle in the east is a way to show Russia that the organization is serious about its “attack on one is an attack on all” policy. Moreover, President Duda’s new policy includes a key element that, as Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz noted at the conference, has been neglected by the countries of Central Europe throughout the history of the region: greater defense cooperation against a common enemy. Dr. Chodakiewicz pointed out that in the Interbellum period of the early 20th century, the countries of Central Europe focused their defense policies on small regional squabbles rather than the looming threat of Soviet Russia. Uniting these nations, which are now part of the European Union, is an integral part of Europe’s defense against any possible Russian aggression.

Mr. Duda seems not to be repeating the mistakes of his predecessors by making deeper partnerships with EU and NATO countries a core component of his new foreign policy. It seems that Mr. Duda has taken these suggestion to heart and is focused on making both Poland as well as NATO a more secure, and unified front against foreign aggression.

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About Poland and the Poles

Zdzisław (Richard) Zakrzewski (1919 – 2013) was a Polish-American optical engineer, philanthropist, banker, a veteran of Poland’s defensive struggle in September 1939 and the Battle of Narvik, and a social and political activist – a true polymath and hero. Mr. Zakrzewski was also a great friend of The Institute of World Politics and a generous supporter of the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies. We are thus making available a PDF of his book, O Polsce i Polakach [About Poland and the Poles] (Warsaw: Ronin, 1996), in which Mr. Zakrzewski reflected on the past, present, and future of his homeland and the meaning of “Polishness” in an increasingly dynamic and constantly evolving world.

For short biographies of Mr. Zakrzewski please see Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz’s “In Memoriam” article and an English-language Wikipedia entry dedicated to him.

Please click here to download his book: O Polsce i Polakach – Zakrzewski

Paul Coyer discusses Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church

On June 9, Dr. Paul Coyer, a Forbes foreign policy columnist, delivered an Intermarium Series lecture at The Institute of World Politics entitled “Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church.” The lecture, which was sponsored by IWP’s Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies, focused on a recent article by the speaker, entitled “(Un)Holy Alliance: Vladimir Putin, The Russian Orthodox Church and Russian Exceptionalism.”

Dr. Coyer began by noting that it can be easy to sympathize with the Russian Orthodox Church, which claims to preserve tradition and uphold moral values. He then described the complexities and various dimensions of the Church’s involvement with the Russian state.

Orthodoxy is not viewed by Russians in the same way that religion is widely viewed in the West. For example, Dr. Coyer noted, 30 percent of respondents in Russia who self-identified as Orthodox simultaneously also identified as atheists. Dr. Coyer explained that Orthodoxy in post-Soviet Russia is a matter of culture and identity, not necessarily the belief in a Supreme Being.

In addition, the speaker described Vladimir Putin’s attempts to increase the strength of the Russian Orthodox Church, with over 20,000 churches being built from 2000 onwards. He argued that this resurgence in the Church’s strength added to Russian exceptionalism and nationalism. Russia has an advantage in its citizens’ mindsets, in that they are more fiercely dedicated to their homeland. By contrast, a 2015 Pew Research Center poll found that Europeans overwhelmingly would not be willing to fight for their countries.

Dr. Coyer maintained that, even without Putin, the conflict between Russia and the West will not fade away. One of the reasons is that culture, including that of Russian Orthodoxy, is at stake. He asserted that a serious confrontation of the West with Russia is increasingly likely.

Dr. Coyer covers international affairs, with a focus on Eurasia, in his Forbes column. He has spent time in academia, having graduate degrees from Yale University and the London School of Economics. His PhD, from the LSE, was on Sino-American relations and diplomatic history. From 2007-2013, he was a visiting scholar at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and he served as a visiting lecturer on Chinese foreign policy and Sino-American relations at the University of Florence, Italy, in 2011 and 2012. He has lived and worked in several locations around the world, including Shanghai, where he did macro-economic research on China’s development and edited a book on the Shanghai stock exchange that was jointly published by JPMorgan and the South China Morning Post, and in Hong Kong, where he did a brief stint in banking for Deutsche Bank.

Dr. Chodakiewicz’s letter to The New York Times on Poland’s presidential election

On Sunday, May 24, the second round of the presidential elections in Poland saw the victory of Andrzej Duda, the candidate of the largest opposition party (Law and Justice, or “PiS”) in the country, over the liberal post-communist incumbent, Bronisław Komorowski. This political shift in the Central European nation prompted The New York Times – which has a long record of biased and skewed coverage of events in Poland – to mislabel Mr. Duda’s party as “right-wing,” thereby implicitly accusing Law and Justice of extremism. To correct this distortion, Dr. Chodakiewicz wrote a letter to the daily’s editors. Since the paper chose not to publish his comments, we are posting the text of Dr. Chodakiewicz’s letter below.

Editor,

To call Poland’s Law and Justice party (PiS) “right-wing” is a stretch (as you did in your coverage of the recent presidential elections). It is a statist party, combining many traditions. Its leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, himself is a pragmatic who sprang from the progressive, left-wing milieu of Warsaw’s radical intelligentsia with cosmopolitan Odessa roots. In addition to its mild anti-Communism, PiS has evolved to combine a strong “social justice” message, an appeal to patriotism, a pledge to strengthen the nation’s defense, a record of lower taxes, opposition to “unbridled capitalism,” and an avowed social and cultural conservatism. In many ways, PiS reflects the legacy of Solidarity’s grass roots, but not some of its globalist elites. The closest domestic analogy would be American blue collar trade unionism in the 1980s under Lane Kirkland, I guess, or “Reagan Democrats.”

Sincerely,

MJC

Dr. Chodakiewicz speaks at SAIS about “the political uses of WWII”

On the morning of Thursday, May 7, Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz participated in a panel discussion at a conference on “History’s War: The Political Uses of WWII.”  The event was organized by the “realist” Center on Global Interests and co-sponsored by JHU – SAIS and Georgetown University.

The panelists were tasked with answering two broad questions about the Second World War:  “As Europe celebrates the 70th anniversary of Allied victory, the Ukrainian crisis and the broader reemergence of nationalism have increasingly politicized the war’s narrative. What role has the war historically played in Russia and Eastern Europe, and how is it currently defining modern politics?”

The video of the entire conference can be found below. To read Dr. Chodakiewicz’s remarks, which focused on collective and individual memory, continue below.

There is no collective memory in the post-Soviet zone, and that includes Poland. There are individual recollections. Individual recollections can coalesce into collective memory only when there is freedom. Under communism, the state employed terror to force upon society a rigid straitjacket in the form of the official narrative. According to this narrative, Stalin liberated and saved Central and Eastern Europe from “Hitlerism.” Those who were not pro-communist and did not agree with the official version were automatically branded as “fascists.” The Reductio at Hitlerum was the rule in this game.

Thus, in most places, a collective memory began to commence to form only after 1989. This process occurred on several levels, including: family, local, national, and regional memories.

The Poles had the easiest job because – from the beginning to the end – they knew that they had two enemies: Hitler and Stalin. After the war, however, the communists did not allow them to remember the war this way. For example, in 1943, the seventeen-year-old Marian Bobolewski (Nom de guerre “Góral” [Mountain Man]) escaped from a German forced labor camp. He joined the National Armed Forces underground resistance outfit. The teenager then fought against the Germans and the communists in the Lublin region. He was arrested by the NKVD in October 1944. His Soviet interrogator crushed his eye with a swift, well-aimed kick in the head. This is how “Góral” recounted it to me: “After the liberation, the Soviets captured me and gouged my eye out.” I replied: “Sir, how can you speak of ‘liberation’? Liberation means the bringing of freedom, and the Red Army brought enslavement. Through the sheer force of inertia, the Red Army pushed the Germans out of Poland by attacking westward. They did not come here to liberate the Poles or the Jews or anybody else, but to enslave all and subordinate them to totalitarian communist domination. Only captive minds can call that a liberation!” Mr. Bobolewski could only weep in response.

The great tragedy is that the victorious communists imposed Stalinist phrases, concepts, symbols, and images on everyone else. A collective memory can emerge only when a society frees itself from such a paradigm. In Poland, this process is the most advanced. It is far less advanced in the Third Reich’s former satellite countries or nations that treated collaboration with the Germans as a lesser evil. In all those places, collective memory is going through a series of birth pangs because individual recollections dictate either that: a) it was righteous to fight in the ranks of the Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Belarusyn, Ukrainian, Croatian, Hungarian, or another SS national formation, or b) that it was more prudent to bandwagon along with Hitler – like Budapest, Bucharest, or Sofia did – than to suffer Poland’s bloody fate.

It will take some time for collective memory to emerge. Patience is the word.

Between Russia and NATO: Security Challenges in Central and Eastern Europe

IWP holds Fifth Annual Kościuszko Chair Spring Symposium

On Saturday, April 25, the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies – currently held by Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz – hosted its Fifth Annual Spring Symposium: “Between Russia and NATO: Security Challenges in Central and Eastern Europe.” This year’s event was held at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City, just across the river from Washington, D.C. The conference was made possible through the generosity of Mr. Jan M. Małek and the Polish-American Foundation for Economic Education and Development (Polsko-Amerykańska Fundacja Edukacji i Rozwoju Ekonomicznego, PAFERE).

The symposium consisted of six panels and was moderated by Dr. Sebastian Gorka of IWP, who also delivered two presentations and the closing remarks.

Dr. Gorka’s first talk addressed “U.S. Interests in Central/Eastern Europe.”

The panel on “Foreign and Defense Policies of Central and Eastern Europe” consisted of lectures by Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz and Mr. Žygimantas Pavilionis, the Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania. Dr. Chodakiewicz emphasized that the Intermarium has suffered from a lack of unity and called for solidarity between the nations of Central and Eastern Europe. Ambassador Pavilionis spoke about what he sees as insufficient US engagement in the region, including the woefully inadequate nature of US public diplomacy and broadcasting in the region.

Dr. Ariel Cohen and Dr. Łucja Świątkowska-Cannon addressed the “Strategic Implications of Economic and Energy Conditions in Central/Eastern Europe,” both pointing out that such impediments as onerous regulations and heavy taxation (“gas tax Sepuku,” in the words of Dr. Cohen) constitute serious obstacles delaying the ability of such countries as Poland and Ukraine to exploit fully their large shale gas deposits, thereby gaining energy independence.

The panel on “Russian Foreign Policy and Military Developments in Central and Eastern Europe” consisted of four lectures. Prof. Andrzej Nowak from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, provided a historical survey of imperialist continuities in Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet thought. Dr. Jack Dziak spoke about Spetsnaz operations, active measures, and the “new hybrid warfare,” which — as he pointed out — was by no means “new.” The real problem was that the US government closed down the means we had at our disposal to counter these threats during the Cold War right after the Soviet implosion. Mr. Chris Zawitkowski focused on post-Soviet Russia’s military doctrine, which continues to view the US and NATO as its main “enemies.” Dr. Phillip Petersen of the Potomac Foundation, in turn, explained the nature of the post-Soviet “new hybrid warfare,” which the Russians call simply “new generation warfare.”  Dr. Petersen’s PowerPoint presentation can be found here: Download file Petersen, New Generation Warfare

During the “NATO and Central and Eastern Europe” Dr. Phillip Karber (Potomac Foundation) emphasized the highly intensive nature of Moscow’s proxy war in the Donbas and offered practical policy advice on how to most effectively help the Ukrainians defend themselves. Shifting towards first things, Prof. Joseph Wood’s presentation anchored our understanding of America’s role in NATO in natural law and transcendental moral values.

The final panel, “U.S. Foreign Policy Options,” featured the speeches of Dr. John Lenczowski and Dr. Sebastian Gorka.