Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Kościuszko Chair Intermarium Lecture Series 2018/2019

In the academic year 2018/2019, monthly lectures were given as a part of our Intermarium lecture series.

  1. Monte Rosa: Memoir of an Accidental Spy (book presentation)

Mr. Jaroslaw Martyniuk, a former energy economist with the IEA/OECD and a retired sociologist, presented a sweeping panorama of his life from the outbreak of WWII to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The narrative begins in Ukraine and ends in Paris where he coordinated the work of fifty undercover interviewers engaged in unorthodox research with Soviet visitors in Western Europe, a chapter of Cold War history never before revealed in such remarkable detail. The story includes the author’s narrow escape from Communism, an account of his extended family’s ordeal in the Soviet Gulag, life in post-war Bavaria, thirty years in Chicago and culminates with twelve years in France where he worked for the International Energy Agency and Radio Liberty.

  1. E Pluribus Unum in Ukraine? Reconciling Conflicting National Identity in the Borderland

Mr. James A. Rice, the Legislative Director for U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, discussed the historical roots of the east-west divide in Ukraine, currently being exploited by Putin’s Russia. It will describe the conflicting worldviews and mentalities of eastern and western Ukrainians and suggest how they can be reconciled going forward.

  1. Russian Military History

Mr. Geoffrey Seroka, a graduate student at The Institute of World Politics, has focused his graduate research on Russian/Eurassion affairs. In this lecture, he explored the military history of Russia, going back to pre-imperial times, in order to analyze the Russian Federation’s recent actions toward the United States, NATO, and Europe. Russia has historically viewed war in a different light than the West, and this historical context is vital to determining how to respond to recent belligerent actions.

  1. The League of Militant Godless

Ms. Helen Lamm, a graduate student in Statecraft and International Affairs at The Institute of World Politics specializing in American Foreign Policy has an interest in the politics of post-communism. She focuses on the interplay of religion and politics. She discussed the Soviet antireligious activism and propaganda, taking a look at the “volunteer” activism and analyzing the artistic renderings of religion in Bezbozhnik – the propaganda apparatus of the League of the Militant Godless.

  1. Suki w Zakone: A Criminal Key to Putin’s Russia

Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz discussed how the criminal underworld was coopted by the Bolshevik revolution, how it was tamed and broken by the Soviet state, how it coexisted with it and infiltrated it; how it became transformed in the post-Soviet realm; and how it became second nature of Putin’s system in Russia. Dr. Chodakiewicz stressed the historical continuities of Russia’s criminal underworld which have now infiltrated into the mainstream of its national life.

The lecture was preceded by the performance of Russian music on the prima/malaya domra by Mr. Charles Winkler. He was a Department of Defense analyst for more than 30 years, specializing in Soviet, Russian, East European, and Middle Eastern matters, and threat analysis. Now in retirement, he applies his national-security analyst’s perspective and research skills to matters of domestic and foreign affairs.

  1. The Future of the European Union

Mr. László Szabó, M.D. physician, businessman, politician, and diplomat, is the current Hungarian Ambassador. Ambassador Szabó practiced as a transplant surgeon, then shifted to the pharmaceutical industry and held several local and international leadership positions for more than 20 years. The Government of Hungary reached out to him to build the trade pillar of the Ministry until his appointment as Ambassador to the U.S. in July 2017. He presented the political and cultural vision of Central and Eastern Europe, and its implications to the region’s relations with the United States. He discussed the migration crisis, Brexit, and the rise of new political ideas that surround the debate on the future of the European integration.

  1. Belarus Under Putin’s Radar

Mr. Franak Viačorka, the Vice President of the Digital Communication Network, discussed how Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made it clear to Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenka that Minsk must take steps towards deeper integration between the two countries. Polls have shown that, following the rise of Russian media presence in Belarus, pro-Russian sentiment increased within the society. He explored the questions of what, exactly, the situation in Belarus is and what role Belarusian civil society, the EU, and the U.S. could play in the new paradigm.

  1. The Challenge of Counterintelligence Cultures: The Counterintelligence State from Tsarist Russia and the USSR, to Putin’s Russia, the PRC, Cuba & Venezuela, and Resurgent Militant Islam

Dr. Jack Dziak, a co-founder and President of Dziak Group, Inc. and an Adjunct Professor at the Institute of World Politics, discussed the concept of the counterintelligence state. From counterintelligence cum prevocational style of the Tsarist Okhrana’s near classic penetration operations against its indigenous Marxist revolutionary terrorists; through the long, ugly Soviet secret police period; to the counterintelligence continuities and refinements of former KGB Lt. Col. and now Russian President, Vladimir Putin. He also briefly discussed the PRC counterintelligence state, whose pedigree long antedates that of Russia, the highlight client counterintelligence state systems such as Cuba and Venezuela, and the unsurprising similarities between resurgent militant Islam and the Soviet/Russian counterintelligence state paradigm.

  1. A Journey to the Gulag: Experiencing History Through Virtual Reality

Mr. Štěpán Černoušek, a Fullbright scholar and the head of the Virtual Museum Gulag.Online and the Chairman of the Gulag.cz Association, spoke about the project documenting the Gulag camps and creating VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) experiences for the unique online Gulag museum. Around 20 million people went through the horrors of Soviet labor camps. At least 1.6 million of them died. Among the victims of Soviet repression were also people from European countries and the U.S. Currently, with the exception of the former Perm-36 project, there aren’t any museums in Russia of former Gulag camps from Stalin’s era. However, hundreds of abandoned camps are still hidden away in the Siberian taiga. A small group of enthusiasts visit and document these sites to virtually preserve them to make them accessible to the public through virtual and augmented reality. The lecture began with a documentary from Mr. Černoušek’s expeditions, “A Journey to the Gulag”, after which the presentation of the virtual museum followed.

Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters

by Marek Jan Chodakiewicz  |  April 7, 2016  |  ARTICLES

Without the multicultural demographic and ideological context, the holy warriors of the Caliphate would stand out like proverbial sore thumbs in the Western world. Currently, they enjoy a perfect environment. They will not let up until Dar al Islam dominates the world. Or at least they will keep trying. The West should oppose that.

In war, power relationships reflect selflessness and bravery, but also feed on greed and compulsion. The bellicose synergy of the Muslim overlords and their Christian dependents reflected tactical alliances, personal considerations, mercenary motives, and brazen slavery. A typical leftist newsmaker of Indian parentage, the son of a tenured UN bureaucrat and a liberal academic at New York University, Ishaan Tharoor disagrees. According to him, Muslims and Christians killed each other, but most often they killed others jointly. Throughout history Muslims fought in Christian armies and vice versa. To talk about the clash of civilizations or defense of Christendom from Islam is therefore nonsense. This is the essence of Ishaan Tharoor’s belief, or, to be more precise, his enthusiastic endorsement of Ian Almond’s deeply flawed relativist and multiculturalist argument in Two Faiths, One Banner: When Muslims Marched With Christians Across Europe’s Battlegrounds (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009).

Click to read more.

Dr. Chodakiewicz reviews “The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism, 1906-1931” by Per Anders Rudling

According to Professor Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, Per Anders Rudling’s The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism, 1906-1931 (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) is seriously flawed both as far as its intellectual framework and understanding of subtle nature of the identity of the people inhabiting Belorussian lands. More in-depth research and less analytical bias stripped of leftist ideological prejudice should fix the problem. A version of the review was published as “Scholarship of Imagination,” East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies, vol. 2, no. 3 (2015), posted at http://www.ewjus.com/

The full review is also available here: Scholarship-of-Imagination-May2015

 

Bolesław Piasecki as the victim of post-modernist historical revisionism

SONY DSCAfter giving a lecture at the Kosciuszko Chair’s Fourth Annual Spring Symposium, Dr. Wojciech Jerzy Muszyński of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Warsaw, Poland, shared with the KC his paper entitled “Bolesław Piasecki as the victim of post-modernist historical revisionism.”

In the paper, he discusses Mikołaj S. Kunicki’s book entitled Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism In 20th-Century Poland – The Politics of Bolesław Piasecki (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2012).

An abstract of the paper is below, and the full paper can be found here: Muszynski, Boleslaw Piasecki as the victom of post-modernist historical revisionism

Abstract

In the following review, Dr. Wojciech J. Muszyński offers a critical analysis of Mikołaj Kunicki’s book on Bolesław Piasecki. As an iron pragmatic who began his political career as a nationalist radical, and ended it as a communist collaborator, Piasecki fascinates his ideological enemies to this day. Furthermore, they mirror image and reduce him to the role of the antithesis of what they themselves are: liberal or leftist ideologues, usually of an internationalist bent. It is a striking phenomenon that Bolesław Piasecki – a politician of secondary importance who never exerted a decisive influence on Polish history – became the subject of two ostensibly comprehensive biographies in English. This is all the more amazing, since Poland and the great personages in her history – with perhaps the exceptions of Pope John Paul II in the 1990s, and Lech Wałęsa – are generally not of much interest to Western historians. Piasecki, however, became the subject of an English-language biography well before his death in the form of Lucjan Blit’s The Eastern Pretender (1965). More recently, in 2012, he became the antagonist of a second work in English: Mikołaj Stanisław Kunicki’s Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism in 20th-Century Poland: The Politics of Bolesław Piasecki. Blit’s publication, however, was a political pamphlet, which the author never denied; just as he did not deny his open, fierce antipathy toward Piasecki. Kunicki’s biography, on the other hand, is presented as a work of objective scholarship. In essence, the latter represents efforts by post-modernist, neo-Stalinist academics to depict Polish nationalists as communist collaborators, which serves to whitewash Marxism by pinning much of the blame for the crimes of communism on “nationalism.”

* * *

Bolesław Piasecki, an iron pragmatic who began his political career as a radical nationalist, continues to fascinate his ideological foes to this day. It is quite astonishing that this admittedly second-rate politician who did not play any significant role in Polish history, has already been the subject of two quite substantial biographical publications in English. This is all the more astounding given that famous personages in the history of Poland have not attracted much interest on the part of Western historians, except perhaps for Pope John Paul II during the 1990s and Lech Wałęsa. Upon investigating the shelves of American and British book stores, it is difficult to find any books on important Poles. Piasecki, however, became the subject of an English-language biography many years before his death, i.e. Lucjan Blit’s The Eastern Pretender: The Story of Bolesław Piasecki, which was published in 1965. In 2012, another work appeared: Mikołaj Stanisław Kunicki’s Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism In 20th-Century Poland – The Politics of Bolesław Piasecki. But whereas Blit’s publication was a political pamphlet—which the author did not really disguise, nor did he deny his sharp antipathy towards Piasecki—Kunicki’s biography is presented as an objective work of scholarship.

Read more

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.

Dr. Chodakiewicz reviews book on Belarusian nationalism

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, review of Jerzy Grzybowski, Pogoń między Orłem Białym, Swastyką i Czerwoną Gwiazdą: Białoruski ruch niepodległościowy w latach 19391956 [The Chase between the White Eagle, the Swastika, and the Red Star: The Belarusian pro-independence movement in 1939 – 1956] (Warsaw: Bel Studio, 2011), in Slavonic and East European Review, 92, 1, January 2014: 177-180.

The subject of Belarus—not to mention the topic of Belarusian nationalism—has received little scholarly attention and even less media publicity. If the Intermarium nation is mentioned at all, it is usually associated with its president, “the last dictator in Europe,” Aleksandr Lukashenka. However, although the post-Soviet republic may be ruled by a one-time KGB officer with nostalgia for the Bolshevik system, Belarus also has a nationalist movement that is pro-independence and pro-Western.

In the January 2014 issue of the Slavonic and East European Review (SEER), Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz reviewed Jerzy Grzybowski’s history of the Belarusian nationalist movement. The extremely well-researched Polish-language study (published in 2011) focuses on the years 1939 – 1956, a crucial—and nightmarish—period in the modern history of the Intermarium region, spanning the time from the German-Soviet invasion and partition of Poland (and the Sovietization of former Northeastern Poland, now Western Belarus), through the Nazi-Bolshevik total war in White Ruthenia, to the postwar Soviet reoccupation.

Dr. Chodakiewicz points out that an analysis of Belarusian nationalism may be applicable to many parts of the world in the present, and no doubt in the future as well:

“The monograph is essentially about nationalists without a nation. More precisely, there were very highly motivated nationalist activists, but there were only ethnographic denizens of Belarus, usually peasants, most of them devoid of any modern national consciousness. Instead, they usually identified with a locality (calling themselves tutejsi — people from here), and a religion (usually Christian Orthodoxy, but also the Uniate rite and, to a lesser extent, Roman Catholicism). The nationalists largely operated in a vacuum. Thus, they concluded that they needed an independent state to‘make peasants into Belorusians,’ to paraphrase Eugene Weber. Belorusian nationalists rejected the notion that nationalism is culture and, thus, it needs no state, as proved conclusively by 123 years of triumphant experience and the endurance of the partitioned Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Belarusian nationalists, alas, consciously rejected the legacy of the multi-national republic in favour of integral ethno-nationalism.”

A PDF version of the entire review may be accessed here:  Slavonic and East European Review, January 2014 Slav

Could America have saved Czechoslovakia from communism?

Such is the question posed by Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies researcher, Paweł Styrna, in his recent review of Igor Lukes’ On the Edge of the Cold War: American Diplomats and Spies in Postwar Prague (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Based on the scholarly study, Mr. Styrna concludes that a prudent and integrated American strategy could have certainly prevented the Sovietization of Czechoslovakia following the Second World War. He writes: “For American policy-makers and strategic planners, it is a case study in missed opportunities. Given a more determined and purposeful integrated strategy, Czechoslovakia might have been saved at a time when America still enjoyed a nuclear monopoly and the Soviet Union was internally weakened by the war it had itself helped spark. Czechoslovakia’s accession to the anti-communist, American-led coalition might not have averted the Cold War, but it would have certainly strengthened the Western alliance’s strategic position in Central Europe, thereby possibly hastening the end of the Cold War and the implosion of the Soviet Bloc.”

Mr. Styrna’s review was posted on the website of the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research (SFPPR) on 25 July 2013.