Kościuszko Chair holds Fourth Annual Spring Symposium

On Saturday, 12 April, the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies at IWP hosted its Fourth Annual Spring Symposium, one of the Chair’s two semi-annual conferences devoted to the historical, cultural, geopolitical, economic, and other aspects of Poland and the Intermarium.

The first speaker, Mr. Michael Szpindor-Watson, a doctoral candidate in economics at George Mason University, spoke on the impact of climate change on the persecutions and expulsions of Jews in Europe from 1300-1795. He pointed out that while climate shocks exacerbated tensions between Christians and Jews and often led to the persecution or even expulsions of the latter, the same positive correlation was not true of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was known as the “Jewish Paradise” (Paradisus Iudaeorum).

Dr. Elizabeth Radziszewski — Visiting Assistant Professor of International Relations at Lehigh University — delivered a presentation on “Competition, Accountability, and the Private Military Industry.” Although the topic of private military contractors has been a controversial one, Dr. Radziszewski pointed out that competition among several firms had a positive impact on the accountability and effectiveness of the private contractor firms.

Dr. Wojciech Jerzy Muszyński of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Warsaw, Poland, deconstructed the attempts of post-modernist scholars and pundits to pin the blame for the vast and bloody crimes perpetrated by Marxists-Leninists on “nationalism.” As an expert of the Polish nationalist (anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet) underground during the Second World War, Dr. Muszyński spoke about Bolesław Piasecki, who started out as a radical nationalist in interwar Poland, continued as the leader of a small Piłsudskiite underground resistance outfit during the war, and ended up collaborating with the communists after the Soviet occupation. In communist-occupied Poland, Piasecki was best known as the leader of a small pro-regime “progressive Catholic” organization/publishing house, PAX. Dr. Muszyński explained all the seemingly sharp twists and turns in Piasecki’s political path — pointing out that the head of PAX had always been an “iron pragmatic” utilizing whatever ideology suited his ultimate goal, power — debunking the revisionist myth of communism as “socialist in form, but nationalist in content.”

Father Jarosław Wiśniewski — a Polish-born Catholic missionary — shared his experiences from the two decades he spent propagating the faith in the post-Soviet zone, including places such as: Rostov on the Don, Uzbekistan, Sakhalin Island, and Kamchatka Peninsula. The Reverend highlighted the human rights abuses in post-Soviet Russia, including violations of religious freedom. The Russian Orthodox Church, which — as Farther Wiśniewski pointed out, is led by “KGB officers dressed in priestly robes” — has been waging a fierce battle against Catholicism, targeting especially (but not only) priests of Polish descent. Some, as he pointed out, were even murdered by “unknown culprits” or died in suspicious “accidents.” This is an insight into the mindset and modus operandi of the post-Soviet Russian ruling establishment.

Between Extermination and Persecution: Christians in the Post-Ottoman Zone

You are cordially invited to a lecture on the topic of

Between Extermination and Persecution:
Christians
in the Post-Ottoman Zone

with
 Aram Hamparian
Executive Director, Armenian National Committee of America

Marek Chodakiewicz
Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies, IWP

Vilen Khlgatyan
Vice-Chairman, Political Developments Research Center

Thursday, April 24
1:30 PM

The Institute of World Politics
1521 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

Register

This event is part of a series on the Intermarium sponsored by the Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies.

Kosciuszko Chair Logo

The Christian population of the Near East has been stuck between repressive governments on one side and militant Islamists on the other for decades. Since the turn of the last century a wave of ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and genocide have engulfed the Near East with the Christians of the region bearing the brunt of the carnage. Once home to a large and prosperous multi confessional Christian population, Christendom is now on a demographic and geopolitical track to lose the place of its origin. An overview of mass violence against various Christian groups will be discussed with an emphasis on the perpetration of genocide against the Armenian, Assyrian, and Pontic Greek populations of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the current threats facing Christians in Syria, Iraq, and Egypt.

Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz is the current holder of the Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies, which is now here at IWP.  He has authored numerous works in both English and Polish. While at the University of Virginia, he edited the Kosciuszko Chair’s bulletin: Nihil Novi.

Dr. Chodakiewicz writes weekly columns for popular Polish press and contributes to the SELOUS Foundation internet hub. He has also published on foreign policy in various venues, including The Journal of World AffairsAmerican Spectator, and National Review Online.

In addition to numerous popular and scholarly articles, Dr. Chodakiewicz authored, co-authored, edited, and co-edited over fifteen scholarly monographs and documentary collections. His latest include Intermarium: The Land Between the Black and Baltic Seas (2012), which is a depiction of the Eastern Borderlands of the West on the rim of the former Soviet Union, and On the Right and Left (2013), which is a textbook of intellectual history of modern ideologies. He translated and edited the correspondence of the Ulam family of Lwów to the mathematician Stanislaw Ulam at Harvard from 1936 until after the Second World War and co-edited a selection of Ronald Reagan’s speeches published as My Vision of America in Polish.

His interests include the post-Soviet zone, the Second World War and its aftermath, Europe in the 19th and 20th century, Western civilization and its intellectual tradition, extremist movements in history, conspiracy theory and practice, and comparative civilizations.

At IWP, Dr. Chodakiewicz teaches courses on Genocide and Genocide Prevention, Geography and Strategy, and Russian Politics and Foreign Policy.  In addition, he leads directed studies.

Vilen Khlgatyan is Vice-Chairman of Political Developments Research Center (PDRC), a virtual think tank based in Yerevan, Armenia. He attended Webster University, where he double majored in International Relations and International Business, and graduated in Spring 2010. He spent a semester studying in Vienna, Austria, where he also attended OPEC and OSCE workshops.

In 2013, he graduated from The Institute of World Politics, where his studies focused on national security and the geopolitics of energy. He wrote his honors thesis on the “Geopolitics of Energy in the South Caucasus.”

Mr. Khlgatyan was a campaign staffer for Congressman Russ Carnahan of Missouri’s 3rd District, who sat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Dr. Chodakiewicz’s “Intermarium” in the Slavic Review

Intermarium, by Mark ChodakiewiczThe Slavic Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Association of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), has reviewed Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz’s Intermarium: The Land between the Black and Baltic Seas (Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2012). The review was published in Vol. 73, No. 1 (Spring 2014) of the Slavic Review on pages 163-164.

While generally critical of the book for ideological and political reasons, the reviewer recognizes that Intermarium was based on a “huge array of primary and secondary sources,” acknowledging that it “may be used in graduate seminars on the history of eastern Europe, nationalism, and the Cold War.” He also finds “convincing” Dr. Chodakiewicz’s analysis of the mechanisms of post-communist “transformation” whereby the communists reinvented themselves as social democrats, liberals, or ethno-nationalists.

However, the author of the review disagrees with Dr. Chodakiewicz regarding the geostrategic intentions of post-Soviet Russia. Accordingly, he depicts one of the book’s arguments-which calls for the necessity of stronger ties between the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (i.e. the Intermarium) and a close alliance with the United States-as a “Cold War project designed to forewarn readers of the dangers emanating from Russia” and to construct a pro-American “cordon sanitaire.” The review, downplaying the geopolitical threat from the Kremlin, was undoubtedly written before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.

Please click here for the website of the Slavic Review.

Prof. Poteat mentioned in article on the Smolensk Plane Crash

In his article published on 11 April in the Daily Beast, entitled “Did Putin Blow Up the Whole Polish Government in 2010? A Second Look,” journalist Will Cathcart mentioned IWP Professor Eugene Poteat, a retired CIA veteran and scientific officer. Prof. Poteat has written numerous articles pointing to likely foul play on the part of the post-Soviet Russian regime in the suspicious Smolensk Plane Crash, which occurred on 10 April 2010.

The author also quoted physicist Dr. Kazimierz Nowaczyk, an expert on the crash, who delivered a lecture on the Smolensk disaster at IWP on 8 April.

Is it time to revisit Putin’s role in the Smolensk crash?

The article below is written by IWP student and Kosciuszko Chair researcher Pawel Styrna.  The full article can be found on the website of the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.

After the Smolensk plane crash, the speed with which the disaster became – not unlike Benghazi – relegated to “yesterday’s news” was stunning. An uninformed observer might conclude that what happened at Smolensk was but a minor incident, and didn’t involve the deaths of Poland’s president, and almost one hundred members of the military and political elite of a key U.S.-Central European ally on NATO’s border with Russia.

Four years ago the Soviet-built Tupolev 154M jetliner carrying Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife and First Lady Maria Kaczyńska, leading a delegation of 94 Polish government officials, including high ranking civilian and military officials, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre – crashed on April 10, 2010 killing all aboard before landing at Smolensk, Russia, just east of the Belarus border.

“They were supposed to attend a second memorial service,” wrote Professor Nicholas Dima at the time in his article “Katyn Tragedy Redux.” “The first one had been held three days earlier, but President Kaczyński was irritated because Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had invited only the Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, and the Russian leader had not mentioned the Polish officers massacred by the KGB (NKVD). Consequently, Kaczynski wanted a proper ceremony held at Katyn and was on his way to attend it.” There’s a school of thought that believes Kaczynski took the bait and fell into Vladimir Putin’s trap.

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Dr. Kazimierz Nowaczyk discusses “The Smolensk Plane Crash: Four Years Later”

On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the Smolensk Plane Crash-which occurred on April 10, 2010 — physicist Dr. Kazimierz Nowaczyk delivered a lecture (part of the Intermarium series) on the current state of our knowledge about this aerial disaster.  The lecture took place at The Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C.  The crash killed the Polish presidential couple and almost a hundred members of that pro-American nation’s political and military elite as they flew to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the genocidal Soviet massacre of the Polish elite at Katyn, which — rather ominously — occurred quite close to the crash site.

Dr. Nowaczyk reminded the audience of the role of the Russian air traffic controllers, who misled the Polish pilots by telling them that they were “on the right course.” He also emphasized that the Russian rescue units arrived at the crash site very late — about 27 minutes after the disaster. At the same time, the elite Spetsnaz special forces were in the area from the beginning. The physicist also remarked that the thick fog that has become the subject of arguments about Smolensk, was present only around the Severnyi Airport area, but not much farther away that its vicinity.

A key piece of evidence to note, he pointed out, is the fragmentation of the Soviet-built Tupolev aircraft and the dispersal of these pieces over a large area. Polish archeologists found approximately 60,000 such fragments at the crash site, which is much more than other cases of aviation accidents caused by explosions. In the case of Smolensk, Dr. Nowaczyk argued that at least “two internal explosions” occurred.

In addition, Dr. Nowaczyk argued that we should remember that the post-Soviet Russians brazenly contaminated and desecrated the crash site and the evidence. The wreckage was further torn apart using tools and machinery. Windows, which could contain evidentiary material, were smashed. The pieces of the fuselage were moved to the Severnyi tarmac and exposed to the effects of the weather. Other pieces were moved around the crash site, such as the left stabilizer, which was shifted about 20 meters based on satellite photos from April 11-12, 2010. Even top soil was moved around and trees cut down.

Furthermore, the Russians continue to hold on to the black box — which is legally the property of the Republic of Poland — and have tampered with that evidence as well. The Poles were only given copies, which — as it turned out — were missing the last seconds of a crucial minute, which were apparently erased. What these copies do nevertheless show is abrupt violent movement right before the crash.

What is more, the traces of the aircraft on the ground are consistent neither with the Russian-generated MAK Report, nor the official Warsaw report, both of which subscribe to the “pilot error/birch tree” narrative. Yet, as Dr. Nowaczyk pointed out, the infamous “iron birch” — whatever its actual maximum height — was located below the location of the aircraft at the time that it supposedly struck the tree. However, even if the plane — which was traveling at the approximate speed of 270 kilometers (168 miles) per hour — had actually hit the birch, it would have sliced through it quite easily. This was demonstrated by Dr. Wiesław Binienda’s famous LS DYNA simulation, which — as Dr. Nowaczyk pointed out — multiplied the hardness of the tree by a factor of ten. The birch tree was thus clearly not the culprit of the disaster.

Dr. Nowaczyk’s presentation showed that sufficient evidence exists to revisit the Smolensk Plane Crash — especially in the current geopolitical environment.

Paweł Styrna

Dr. Kazimierz Nowaczyk