Category Archives: Lectures

Sixth Annual Kosciuszko Chair Spring Symposium

The Sixth Annual Kosciuszko Chair Spring Symposium took place on April 9th, 2016. The links to the lectures as well as their summaries are published below:

Mrs. Maria Juczewska
Scholars or Friends? Women in John Paul II’s Life
John Paul II died eleven year ago and the memories of his pontificate are fading away. This is a convenient moment to try to re-invent the history should anybody wish to do so. This is why we have to learn and remember who the Slavic pope was and what he taught.
The main interest of John Paul II as a priest and as a scholar and theologian was the marriage and the family. His work with people, both in the youth ministry at the beginning of his career and later, with individual scholars, was focused on those interests. His friendships with Wanda Poltawska and Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka were based on scholarly interests and served the purpose of furthering his theological concepts and the idea of the civilization of life.
The journalists who inquire into Pope’s life tend to be more interested in juicy gossip that the truth. This is why their revelations need to be approached with a lot of skepticism and thorough knowledge about the life of an exceptional man and a saint.’

Dr. Ewa Salkiewicz-Munnerlyn
The Vatican and Its Tradition of Diplomacy: 2,000 years
The pontifical diplomacy is different from the secular one due to the fact that it is based on custom and very long tradition rather than written codes. It differs also because the diplomats of the Holy See need to be first of all devoted priests and persons characterized by loyalty, coherence and profound humanity. The envoys of the Holy See are first of all of the servants of the Word of God and the bearers of the Pope’s words.
The Catholic Church is the only religious institution in the world that has access to diplomatic relations and interested in the international law. It is a universal and international organization. What enters into diplomatic relations is neither the Catholic Church as a community of believers nor the State of Vatican City but The Holy See (the Pontiff and the Roman Curia), a separate subject of international law of religious and moral values. The Apostolic See has the nature of a moral person by divine law itself. Apostolic nunzios, whose role corresponds to that of secular ambassadors, are invested with both ecclesial and diplomatic missions. The former relates to the contacts with the local bodies of the Church, the latter relates to contacts with the representatives of a given state.

Mr. John Czop
Peasant Politics in France and Poland, 1750 to the Present
This lecture tests how the views of Barrington Moore, Jr., on regime change, and of Eugen Weber, on the process of modernization, fit the cases of France and Poland between 1750 and now.
Barrington Moore, Jr. posited a theory on the social origins of dictatorship and democracy. First, a problem of how the relationships between landlords and peasants, that is the reaction to commercialized agriculture, shaped different paths to modernity through, among others, democratic revolutions in the Atlantic world. The examples of France, Poland and England are compared.
Eugen Weber, in turn, was preoccupied in how the people of local identity, that had not identified themselves in national terms before, gained national identity in Europe in the second half on the 18th century. Again, the situation in France and Poland in terms of relationships between the land owners and the peasants is analyzed as well as the genesis of the sense of national identity in the two countries.

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
Counterintelligence as Strategic Communications: Russia’s Tradition of Deception and Denial
Virtually all Russian state operations are also counterintelligence operations, including strategic messaging/communications. Counterintelligence in the Muscovite tradition means neutralizing all opposition. This tradition dates back to the pre-Muscovy times.
Russian strategic communication is characterized by a number of recurring themes. It involves disinformation techniques, such as manipulation, reciprocity, analogy, provocation, and signals (sometimes they overlap; often they are case studies in predictability).
The ideology, institutions and tools that are used to form and implement strategic communication of the Russian Federation are based on the experiences of Tsarist Russia, Bolshevik Russia and the Soviet Union. Strategic communication targets both the Russian population and the elites as well as general public of other countries through media portals, agents of influence, manipulated celebrities and mercenaries.
Even though Russian foreign propaganda is hardly successful in persuading average people (being successful mainly with opinion-making elites), Russian influence perversely implants nefarious thought patterns and reinforces malicious narratives. It also promotes individuals and groups that use Russian media as a platform to project themselves and their message.

Dr. Tomasz Sommer
Latest revelations from the Soviet secret police archives
The latest historical discoveries regarding the Polish Operation of NKVD from 1937-1938 were discussed. The problem number one was the lack of the original order 00485, which sanctioned anti-Polish operation. It was found in Kiev a year ago and presented at a press conference in Warsaw. It was made available on Wikipedia for everyone interested to see.
Another important problem was the question of how the Polska Organizacja Wwojskowa – according to Soviets the main risk factor for the Soviet system – emerged. A solution to this puzzle was found in the State Archives in Chernihiv. Skarbek was pointed as a head of the POW by the deputy minister pointed Konar-Poleszczuk who in January 1933 was tried in Moscow for causing the Great Famine. During the judicial procedure he admitted to his role in causing Great Famine and explained that he has performed his bad deeds with the help of Polish nationalists from POW whose leader was Skarbek. Why exactly the eager communist Skarbek was accused by him of such a notorious crime? The explanation is simple – he simply knew him from the 20s from Kiev.
Skarbek, of course, could not assassinate Stalin and destroy the Soviet Union alone. Therefore, OGPU created the group of co-conspirators for him co-opting the people who were on trial earlier in 1928 to “the conspiracy”. With time the number of suspected Poles was increasing dynamically, with victims singled out on the basis of as little as a Polish-sounding name in the final stages of the genocide.
There is an urgent need to create a list of the victims of the anti-Polish operations. Approx. 40 percent of victims – almost 80 thousand Poles were executed in the Ukraine. In the archives of the SBU set of those lists was found. Thanks to them the mechanism of the genocide can be accurately described. In the documents there is also detailed information about the places of burial.
What is needed now is archeography, the mining of the resources whose number amounts to 10 million pages in the archive of the SBU alone. Surely, after this enormous material has been read, the history of the Great Terror will have to be written again. Naturally, many historians should work on this task. What Dr. Sommer wants to do alone is to read through as much of material relating to the anti-Polish operation as he can before the Ukrainian archives close inevitably, which is an imminent threat related to the situation in the Ukraine.

Mr. Albert Lulushi
The Origins of CIA’s Involvement in Regime Change and Paramilitary Operations
Beginning in 1949, CIA embarked on a series of covert paramilitary operations aimed at destabilizing and overthrowing Soviet satellite governments in Europe. The planning and execution of these operations was modeled after the widely successful operations that OSS mounted during World War II.
The outcome was very different. The lecture describes CIA’s initial experience in paramilitary operations using as a case study its efforts to force a regime change in Communist Albania between 1949 and 1954. The origins of the Agency were described as well as Kim Philby’s spying activities’ contribution to the failure of certain operations.
The aspect of transferability of those experiences was discussed as well.


Sixth Annual Kosciuszko Chair Spring Symposium is coming!

You are cordially invited to the Sixth Annual Kosciuszko Chair Spring Symposium that is going to take place on April 9th, 2016.

The program and location of the Symposium may be found here:

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.

Dr. Chodakiewicz speaks on the Armenian Tragedy

On Saturday, March 28, The Institute of World Politics, Mastrapa Consultants and the Political Developments Research Center co-sponsored a conference on “The Armenian Genocide: A Century of Sorrow.” The event was moderated by Mr. Vilen Khlgatyan, IWP alumnus and Vice Chairman of the PDRC, and included a lecture by Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz entitled “The Armenian Portent and Paradigm: Toward Re-Conceptualizing the Armenian Tragedy.”

The text of Dr. Chodakiewicz’s paper is available here: The Armenian Tragedy

Dr. Chodakiewicz lectures about Katyn at the Polish Museum of America

Katyn Truth RemembranceOn Sunday, February 8, Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz delivered an address at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago during the opening of the exhibition “Katyn: Truth and Remembrance.” The following is a summary of Dr. Chodakiewicz’s remarks.

The Katyn Forest Massacre, during which the Soviet NKVD killed 26,000 Polish officers and other members of Poland’s elite, is a symbol. First, it is a symbol of the pathology of twentieth-century totalitarianism with all its mass murder, deception, and willful blindness. Secondly, it is a symbol of martyrology and the extermination of the flower of Poland’s elite. A people without an elite struggle to remain a conscious nation but, instead, turn into passive “ethnographic material.”

Why should we remember Katyn? It is humans – not beasts – who remember and honor their dead. The Poles were not allowed properly to bury and mourn the victims of Katyn for half a century. Officially, they were not allowed to remember them. The natural or divine law was thus violated by positive or man-made law, in this case Soviet communist “law” (show trials, executions, terror, and censorship).

To remember is to know. Knowledge is indispensable to make informed decisions, and we learn from experience. We pass on knowledge from generation to the next. That is why tyrants have always attempted to kill memory, as did king Creon of Thebes in Sophocles’ Antigone. The heroine, who buried her brother’s body, in spite of Creon’s edict banning it, was reproached by the tyrant, who asked why she dared to disobey his laws. Antigone answered:

Yes, for it was not Zeus who gave them forth,
Nor Justice, dwelling with the Gods below,
Who traced these laws for all the sons of men;
Nor did I deem thy edicts strong enough,
Coming from mortal man, to set at nought
The unwritten laws of God that know not change.
They are not of to-day nor yesterday,
But live for ever, nor can man assign
When first they sprang to being. Not through fear
Of any man’s resolve was I prepared
Before the Gods to bear the penalty
Of sinning against these. That I should die
I knew, (how should I not?) though thy decree
Had never spoken. And, before my time
If I should die, I reckon this a gain;
For whoso lives, as I, in many woes,
How can it be but death shall bring him gain?
And so for me to bear this doom of thine
Has nothing painful. But, if I had left
My mother’s son unburied on his death,
I should have given them pain. But as things are,
Pain I feel none. And should I seem to thee
To have done a foolish deed, ‘tis simply this,-
I bear the charge of folly from a fool.

What do the totalitarians want to remember? Nothing! The Maoist cannibal, Joseph Kabila of the Congo, killed old people specifically because they shaped the young. In a pre-literate society it was a winning formula. After thirty years, he was able to capture power thanks to the amnesia he thus imposed on the masses.

What do we know? Katyn is just the tip of the iceberg. The Bolshevik mass-murder machine began operating as soon as the communists seized power in Russia in 1917. First, they targeted the Polish nobility of the eastern borderlands of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, followed by the intelligentsia, priests, social activists, and even boy and girl scouts. Then, during the so-called “liberal” 1920s in the USSR, the Bolshevik regime combated the Catholic Church and its lay followers. In 1929 – 1933, the Poles, and especially the petty nobility of the Minsk and Kyiv areas, was overrepresented among the victims of Stalin’s collectivization and finished-off during the “dekulakization” operation in 1935. As Dr. Tomasz Sommer has demonstrated in his book, the greatest peacetime genocide of the interwar period, the “Anti-Polish Operation” of the NKVD, was ordered by Stalin and the Politburo and lasted from August 1937 until November 1938. The Soviet chekists targeted ethnic Poles as alleged “spies” and even searched for Polish-sounding names in the phone books to fulfill the plan of extermination. As a result, up to 250,000 Soviet Poles – usually men between the ages of 16 and 65 – perished.

The deportations of Poles to Siberia and mass executions after 1939, including Katyn, were the logical continuation of this orgy of totalitarian madness. The postwar communist terror was its final chapter. Thus, for example, in August of 1945, during the Augustów Dragnet, the NKVD rounded up thousands of suspected Polish resistance fighters and killed many of them. The Poles continued to be the enemy nation. In fact, twice the number of NKVD regiments were stationed in the Soviet-occupied rump Poland after the war than were in the USSR’s occupation zone in East Germany.

The objective of all this was to destroy the Polish Nation via the extermination of the conscious broadly-understood elite! The people would become mere ethnographic material, like putty in the hands of the communist social engineers, not a nation.

Stalin and the Politburo considered Poland enemy number one long after it was warranted on the account of the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1919-1921. Why? Because the Poles were able to project a universalistic message, the power of the Commonwealth, to organize the Intermarium in a just and decent way. And this the successors of the communists, the Soviets, the successors to the empire of the Tsars, wanted to obliterate.

Yet, we did not forget. We remember. And now the whole world knows, ironically because of the Smolensk Presidential Plane Crash. All wires and dispatches in 2010 mentioned Katyn. When President Lech Kaczyński was buried at the Wawel Cathedral, the funeral was not only his own, but also (finally) a collective official one for the victims of Katyn. In the US Army, the rule is to “leave no man behind.” The same principle is honored by the Polish military and the Polish nation. To remember is not to leave behind.

Now that we know about Katyn, we can move forward. Nevertheless, historians and other concerned individuals must remain in the rear and resolve a few more issues. First, we must finally obtain the Belarussian Katyn List. Secondly, we must thoroughly research the anti-Polish operation of the NKVD (1937-1938). What we have so far is only an introduction to further research. Third, we must delve into the anti-Polish aspects of the Soviet democide of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Fourth, we must unearth the tragic fate of the Poles during the revolution and civil war in Russia (1917 – 1921). Fifth, we must zero in on Communist crimes after 1945. We owe it to the victims to remember.

Prof. Chodakiewicz discusses Russian military and influence operations at US Army Europe Senior Leaders Forum

Photo by US Army IWP’s Professor Marek Jan Chodakiewicz was invited to speak at the US Army Europe Senior Leaders Forum which took place from January 12-14, 2015 in Wiesbaden, Germany on the topic of “Strong Europe.” There were several panels held, in which panelists delivered general remarks and answered analytic questions.  Prof. Chodakiewicz was one of the only non-government experts to participate.

On January 13, he gave remarks at a panel entitled “Russian Military Modernization, Influence Operations, and Russian Operational Art from Georgia, ZAPAD-13, to Ukraine and Donbas.” Other panelists included high level intelligence officers, a senior civilian defense specialist, and a diplomat.

The leadership conference included NATO allies: Germans, Spanish, Belgians, British, and others.  The bulk of the audience consisted of brigade and some regiment commanders, generals, State Department officials, and DoD representatives.  The audience also included senior officers and NCOs, including from the units slated to be deployed to Ukraine.

A version of Dr. Chodakiewicz’s comments appear below.

Muscovite Continuity:
An Integrated Strategy and Counterintelligence Operation

In the past few years, the Kremlin has brought forth a dazzling array of its tools of statecraft, combining political warfare, public diplomacy, active measures, disinformation, propaganda, covert actions, and military power, including conventional and guerrilla operations. In a word, President Vladimir Putin predictably has pursued power to restore the empire. Moscow has deployed methods on which it has relied from times immemorial. We deal here with continuity rather than discontinuity. Thus, the Kremlin’s moves could be anticipated. This is plain, despite the shocking surprise of some of the Western observers who failed to predict Russia’s expansion and, consequently, their flawed attempts to understand the phenomena at play. For example, some of them discovered the alleged novelty of “hybrid warfare.” Yet, what we have seen from Georgia to Ukraine is a traditional, irregular fighting method which has adopted itself to new circumstances by incorporating new technologies.

As I argued in my Intermarium, history undergirds Putin’s moves, his imperial aim remains immutable; and his tools of statecraft are fixed. Within this context, let us look at Moscow’s soft power, strategic messaging, propaganda narrative, military build-up, and new technologies, including cyber and social media capabilities. We shall also briefly consider the relationship between Russia’s economic resources and will to power, as well as the capacity of Western sanctions to diminish both.

I. The Context

The context allowing us to understand Russia requires remembering the factors which have continued to inform Russian conduct for several hundreds of years. First, the Russian Federation is a despotic and patrimonial polity with its Byzantine caesaro-papism (no division between church and state and, hence, no sphere of freedom) descending from the Mongol-controlled Duchy of Moscow and its successors: the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Second, another thread of continuity stems from the fact that the Russian Federation is a product of the transformation of Communism into post-Communism, and not liberal democracy. The transformation ensured that the institutions and the personnel of the totalitarian state have survived to haunt their subjects and the rest of the world into the 21st century. This is the deeper meaning of Putin’s famous dictum, “once a Chekist, always a Chekist.”  Third, continuity in the Russian Federation pertains further to the modus operandi of the regime. Marxist-Leninist dialectics allow the Kremlin to be very flexible and pragmatic, amoral, and relativistic. No longer a millenarian ideology, which masked as “science,” promising paradise on earth by following a self-anointed vanguard of the proletariat, Marxism-Leninism serves the post-Communist successors of the vanguard as a handy tool to maintain themselves in power by deftly exercising control over the captive Russian population.

II. The Aim

What is the aim of the Russian post-Communist regime? It wants to maintain Putin and his team in power. It endeavors to restore the empire in three areas. Its first target is the so-called “near abroad” (the newly liberated nations of the old USSR); next on the list are the former Warsaw Pact countries; and, finally, there follows whatever else the logic of imperial expansion dictates. In a way, the sky is always the theoretical limit, but the resources, will, and means inevitably tend to serve as a check on the imperial appetites. Restoring the empire means anything between incorporation and satellitezation. This is accomplished through a variety of means — including cultural and economic influence, for example, the much feared energy weapon vis-à-vis the European Union — deployed shrewdly to undermine and even disintegrate the Western Alliance, NATO in particular.

III. The Tools

What are the tools? Moscow deploys the following resources:

  1. Energy revenues and shady business deals. The latter usually involve raw materials and minerals. They function in a world of murky financial transactions involving a multitude of related companies acquired in the past twenty-odd years by post-Soviet nationals, mostly the oligarchs, with often rumored criminal underworld ties, whose actions are increasingly coordinated with the Russian state.
  2. Integrated strategy
  • Active measures (all tricks short of violence, including spies and agents of influence, e.g., the activities of the Anna Chapman group in New York; the Snowden operation)
  • Counterintelligence and “wet affairs” (e.g., the Alexander Litvinienko assassination, kidnapping of an Estonian intelligence officer from his country into Russia)
  • Swaggering (including Russia’s antics in the Arctic and airspace violation through overflights in the US, Canada, the Baltics, and Scandinavia, as well as coastal water penetration via submarines, as has been experienced lately by Sweden [BBC, 11 December 2014])
  • Sheer force (war against Georgia in 2008, invasion of Crimea in 2014)
  • The will to deploy all of the above

IV. Questions and problems

  1. What are Russia’s main sources of soft power?
  • Iron will of the leader and his team
  • Popular resentment of the West among the post-Soviet Russian people
  • Western naiveté and gullibility

1. Do Russian leaders view soft power the same way that Western leaders do? The short answer is an emphatic “No!” A long response follows:

  • True, both Western and Russian leaders recognize soft power as a tool of statecraft, but that’s where similarities end.
  • For Western leaders, the Americans in particular, “soft power” is a zinger, a sound bite, a gimmick to distinguish oneself from the allegedly troglodyte past of the previous administration. Soft power should serve to make things nice, to show that the Americans are also from Venus. At best, in the West, soft power is a stand-alone phenomenon uncoordinated with other endeavors of exercising political will.
  • The Kremlin regards soft power as just one tool in a vast arsenal of statecraft. In coordination with other tools of power, it is used to dominate, to intimidate, and to achieve strategic objectives.

3. How does Russia use social media or cyber operations to promote its strategic message?

It does so by deploying new technologies to project time-worn propaganda messages, in a protracted campaign dubbed by Russian dissidents as the “weaponization of information,” by:

a. Waging cyberwar or cyberattacks to:

b. Using social media to:

  • Influence
  • Woo
  • Smear
  • Convince
  • Disinform
  • Sway
  • Manipulate

c. As far as new cybertechnologies, the Kremlin’s methods include deploying:

  • Fake websites (including on Facebook, e.g. to spread disinformation about the war in eastern Ukraine or its particular aspects, like the downing of the Malaysian Air passenger plane in July 2014)
  • “Doctoring” Wikipedia pages
  • Fake virtual think tanks (e.g., Center for Eurasian Strategic Intelligence, see, 15 December 2014)
  • Propaganda tweets and hubs (e.g., is set up to allow foreigners to apologize to Putin for Western “aggression” in Ukraine; the website is available in 19 languages; or so-called “source-laundry assets,” news websites, legitimizing the Kremlin’s propaganda spin in one accessible place for local and foreign media to pick it up)
  • Trolls on the internet (various fora, and comment sections of on-line newspapers)
  • Hackers and destruction, or at least crippling, of web news sources deemed hostile to the Kremlin
  • Setting up new and improved English language news media, e.g., Russia Today (RT), Sputnik News (the latter projected to employ from 30 to 100 people in each of its 130 studios in 34 countries, including 100 staff in Kyiv, propagandizing in 30 languages, see Guardian, 6 January 2015)
  • Promoting,  through the Kremlin’s media empire, of the Western and “near abroad” useful idiots, agents of influence, and others parroting Moscow’s propaganda line, who otherwise would linger in obscurity (e.g., an erstwhile populist Samoobrona [Self-Defense] activist, Mateusz Piskorski, in Poland, or the leaders of a radical nationalist miniscule group, Falanga; a bevy of similar non-entities and pro-Russian extremists elsewhere in Europe; the pseudo-Atlanticists in Germany, thus ensuring that the Kremlin’s message spreads and the unity of the West suffers, e.g.,, 11 December 2014,
  • Seemingly legitimate Russian and allied news media patiently and consistently repeating Soviet-vintage propaganda to control the narrative which, in turn infects the Western media echo chamber (e.g., one of the most popular is the canard that the Red Army “liberated” Poland in 1945, completely ignoring that liberation means bringing freedom, and Stalin merely pushed out and replaced Hitler as a new occupier. How could anyone be liberated by Stalin?)

4. What are the most salient features and themes of the Kremlin’s propaganda offensive?

They include:

a. An endeavor to occupy high moral ground, through:

  • Waging a peace offensive against the West’s defending itself (e.g., vs. deploying US missiles in Romania, see TASS, 17 December 2014)
  • Condemning violence (e.g., vs. torture by the CIA, see TASS, 17 December 2014)
  • Exposing and branding “fascism” and “the fascists” (e.g., the new government of Ukraine and, in particular, its voluntary militias)
  • Defense of Christian civilization (e.g., against “gay propaganda”)

b. An effort to purvey disinformation and sow mistrust to undermine NATO and other allies of the United States

  • The Snowden affair (which has become an intelligence and counterintelligence operation by Moscow, see
  • Wikileaks (which should now be considered primarily as a platform for foreign intelligence influence operations rather than merely a cyber anarcho-hactivist performance art)
  • The Western paleo-conservative and libertarian duping (which afflicts Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul followers who see Vladimir Putin either as a champion of traditional values or a victim of Western aggression into “his” sphere of influence; e.g.,

5. How do Russia’s domestic strategic messages differ from its foreign messages?

The target audiences are differentiated according to a sophisticated variety of criteria. Sometimes propaganda messages overlap; however, oftentimes the accents on various propaganda features are distributed differently based on whether they are intended for domestic consumption or for foreign use. Propaganda for domestic use can sound quite hysterical. In the “near abroad” it can be very virulent, in particular in Ukraine. For example, in Kharkiv the pro-Russian underground stuffed mailboxes of Ukrainian activists, including those employed by NGOs, with a Christmas message that read: “We’ll get every single one of you Nazi scum,” virtually an exact replica of letters addressed to Nazi collaborators during the Second World War by Communist guerrillas (see Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 8 January 2015, The regime often practices the art of allusion that is quite readable at home, and quite obscure abroad, in the West in particular.

a. Domestic consumption:

  • The Kremlin narrates its aggression in Ukraine, the Baltics, and Caucasus as if Russia were fighting the Second World War all over again. It includes attacking its opponents in the “near abroad” as “the fascists,” while assistance to the rebels and Russian minorities is dubbed “fraternal assistance,” which — at the same time — the government denies to be rendering. The assault on the near abroad (nearly identical for both foreign and domestic reception) is pregnant with the symbolism of the Second World War, which is projected in a much more emotional manner for the domestic consumer.
  • Moscow claims (both for domestic and foreign audiences) to be defending Jews in Ukraine from fascists and anti-Semites. However, simultaneously, it blames the “oligarchs” — a by-word for “the Jews” — as having taken over in Ukraine, a cryptic message that is easily read by Russia’s domestic audience.
  • The Russian Federation pursues a pro-active policy of support for the Russian minority (or, rather, more accurately, post-Soviet Russian speakers) residing outside of the state’s boundaries, primarily in the near abroad (but also elsewhere in the diaspora, e.g. Cyprus). The concern for these “Russians” is expressed in nationalistic, cultural, and religious terms. They are “fellow Russians,” “our [(post) Soviet] people,” and Christian Orthodox. The existence of large Russian-speaking former post-colonial remnants is the main tool of Moscow’s influence in the “near abroad.” The Kremlin meddles in the affairs of foreign countries by invoking “human rights” in defense of the allegedly “oppressed” Russian minority, and additionally boosts its strength by providing economic and diplomatic assistance, which translate mainly into cultural continuity with the Soviet times and continuous alienation from mainstream cultures through resistance to assimilation. The Russian minority is the main tool of Russian imperialism. This is not only evident in Ukraine, but in the Baltics in particular.
  • Putin singles out the Poles as the greatest threat and the main troublemakers (e.g, the Poles, at the behest of the US, allegedly trained the Kyiv Maidan fighters, and “Polish mercenaries” allegedly battle the rebels in the Donbas). Historically, the Poles were the main rivals of the Muscovites in the struggle to dominate of the Intermarium, the land between the Black and Baltic seas, and the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1919 – 1921 was the only time in history that the Red Army was defeated in the field. Hence, at the symbolic level, the Russian President replaced the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution commemoration with a holiday celebrating the termination of the occupation of Moscow by the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania-Ruthenia in 1612. All this is absolutely obvious at home in Russia, and uniformly ignored in the West. The Kremlin hastens not to explicate this complicated issue beyond the post-Soviet zone.
  • The chief successor state to the USSR loudly proclaims its unity of purpose with Orthodox (Russian) Christian faith. It vows to uphold it as Russia’s true faith, while accommodating as junior confessions Judaism and Islam. Protestant Christianity is treated as a sect, and Catholicism regarded as “a Polish religion,” and dangerous theological and political competition.

b. Narratives for foreign consumption:

  • Russia stands for freedom and protects dissidents in fear of persecution in the  West (Snowden)
  • Russia supports Christian civilization against the West’s counterculture, in particular “gay propaganda.”
  • The Euro-Maidan Rising was a US-engineered coup
  • War in Ukraine is about defeating fascism; the pro-Russian rebels are anti-fascists; the Ukrainians are fascists.
  • Russia is not supporting the rebels in eastern Ukraine; the foreign fighters there are uniformly volunteers.
  • Ukrainians commit mass atrocities (and Russian propaganda outlets duly produce pictures from the Chechen wars which they peddle as Kyiv’s murderous actions; similarly, fake witnesses appear to testify about alleged Ukrainian atrocities, including, e.g., a ubiquitous woman who – under different guises and multiple identities – swears to have participated in at least a dozen affairs simultaneously, see, 8 January 2015)
  • Russia and Russian-backed rebels are a pro-Jewish force for they protect Jews from “the fascists” (this is perhaps the most blatant way to pander to the Western media and public)
  • Moscow protects the “human rights” of minorities (without stressing the Kremlin’s chief, if not sole interest in the Russians)

6. Do Russians believe their government’s strategic message? Are they genuinely aggrieved and threatened by the West? 

Yes, most of them do. They perceive the West as having destroyed their beloved USSR and as invading “their” space via NATO expansion, free trade, and cultural imperialism (McDonald’s, rock music, drugs, AIDS, and subversive ideologies, including feminism, gay liberation, and sexual revolution). Despite their own atheism or agnosticism, which they have dubbed as “cultural Christian Orthodoxy,” they condemn the West as “godless” and irreverent on the account of the dominant counter-cultural paradigm of the 1960s in the mainstream of the United States and its allies.

7. What are the economic limits on Russia’s ability to influence its near abroad? What about Europe?

Short of a collapse on a scale experienced in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there are practically no limits. There is only the will of Putin and his team. The old adage that the Russians will “eat grass,” if that is what it takes to defeat the West, still applies.

8. What is the goal of Russia’s military modernization and how might it be set back by recent economic sanctions?

The goal is restoring the empire. It is to put the Russian military back on par with America’s. As far as the threat to Russia’s modernization through Western sanctions, it depends how serious the United States, the European Union, and Japan are about economic warfare. It seems that they are not too serious since they appear to want to chastise gently the post-Soviets, rather than cripple and even less destroy them. Serious economic sanctions would mean a serious setback to Russia’s military modernization campaign, but only in a long run. In the short run, Moscow has either invented or, more often, stolen enough technologies and generated enough revenue to accomplish at least some of its plans to catch up with the US. Serious sanctions — denial of credit, markets, and new technologies – would ensure that the accomplishments would not be sustainable in the long run.

9. What are Russia’s biggest achievements to date in military modernization?

The greatest accomplishments are maintaining world-class nuclear forces (as the Kremlin like to brag, the Russian Federation is the only nation that can destroy the United States for it inherited the USSR’s nuclear capabilities) and fielding fearsome special forces, as well as resurrecting the navy, its submarine component in particular. Beyond that Russia’s military is inferior and often corrupt, suffering poor morale among regular troops (which is plagued by high suicide rates and endemic hazing of the recruits). The so-called revolution in military affairs has impacted only the elite branches of the military, while neglecting most others.

10. What is the Russian military strategy for the next 3 to 5 years?

In general, it is to regain whatever it lost following the implosion of the USSR. In particular, the military is set to slowly cannibalize the “near abroad” through active measures and special operations waiting for an opportunity to strike and expand. It aims to prevent any of the “near abroad” from either joining the West or succumbing to the Caliphatists (Islamists).

11. How is Russia most likely to implement Hybrid Warfare and what is most challenging for a conventional force in countering this form of war?

“Hybrid Warfare” is a misnomer suggesting a new phenomenon, when it is a traditional Russian fighting method. It is a fancy name for a combined tactic of irregular operations (guerrilla war, asymmetric actions, commando tactics, etc.) that the upstart Muscovities learned from the nomadic Mongols from the 13th century onward. The only difference is that the Kremlin incorporated new technologies, including cyber operations, to facilitate their ongoing success. Irregular operations misnamed “Hybrid Warfare” are nothing new. The greatest challenge is to recognize them for what they are and counter them with the same and/or massive civil disobedience. Their latest Crimean and eastern Ukrainian avatar concerned the deployment of the following traditional components:

  • “Tin cans” (konservy), or military intelligence officers who galvanized, organized, and led the rebellion
  • “Green people” (Russian special forces infiltrators) who provided the backbone for rebel operations
  • Volunteers, real and imagined (both locals and outsiders)

12. What has Russia not yet achieved in terms of military modernization?

It has not achieved a comprehensive revolution in military affairs. It has not empowered its NCO corps because that would undermine the pathological culture of denying and withholding initiative and responsibility at the tactical level. Finally, it has not yet stolen the newest technology to integrate fully all its military branches.

13. How do Russia’s use of information operations and strategic messaging benefit military operations?

Generally, information operations and strategic messaging directed at the West ensure that the responses by the United States and its allies are confused, feeble, and delayed, if any. At the tactical level, information operations and strategic messaging paved the way for a virtually bloodless victory in Crimea. This was a brilliant deception operation which confused and disarmed the defenders. The invaders claimed to have descended upon Crimea to defend the locals against the “fascists” in Kyiv. They avoided the use of violence, whenever possible, instead disarming the Ukrainian forces psychologically by invoking Slavic and post-Soviet “brotherhood,” intimidating through swaggering with an overwhelming force, and bribing many to defect.

14. How could Russia’s strategic messages be most effectively challenged?

This is a piecemeal question. I shall try to answer comprehensively addressing issues beyond strategic messaging to suggest, first, remedies to the current crisis, and, then, strategies to handle the Kremlin consistently.

  • Move NATO nations and their allies beyond debating whether to counter to how to counter Russia’s “weaponization of information,” i.e. its infowars, by drawing from vast Cold War experience, in particular from the 1980s, instead of reinventing the wheel (e.g.,, 8 January 2015).
  • Integrate strategic communications of NATO and its allies, while retaining local flavor of each of the participant crafted to particular challenges.
  • Craft NATO messages pro-actively, anticipating the Kremlin’s moves
  • Provide cultural translation to second tier NATO nations, in particular the Mediterranean countries to help them understand issues at stake and to counter Russian disinformation
  • Carry out the same operation for Third World consumption
  • Create English language multiple media platforms to influence Western public opinion to alarm it to the nature of post-Soviet aggression
  • Produce social media shows on topics of interest to counter Russian propaganda, in particular where it has seeped successfully into the Western public circulation because of the complicity, conscious or unconscious, of the prestige media (e.g., NATO has produced a Youtube video to dispel the Kremlin propaganda canard that western Ukraine consists entirely of fascists, see Financial Times, 7 December 2014)
  • Create a Russian language media platform (TV, radio, internet) to influence the Russian speaking public all over the world: Radio, TV, and Web Liberty (RTVWL). Open its offices in all nations of the post-Soviet zone, in the “near abroad” and Russia itself in particular.
  • Create separate web-based platforms to counter each of Russia’s propaganda narratives (e.g., that there are no Russian troops in eastern Ukraine); make the endeavor interactive; post pictures and crowdsource; get the greatest public involvement possible at all levels.
  • Jam Russian broadcasts in response to jamming Western media activities; respond to Moscow’s blocking of Western web-based platforms by taking down Russian internet infrastructure.
  • Require reciprocity in media access. E.g., if Sputnik News opens an office in DC, then RTVWL must be permitted to set one up in Moscow. If Russia Today (RT) is allowed to broadcast in the United States, broadband and cable access is automatically granted to RTVWL in the Russian Federation.
  • Wage cyberwar against the Kremlin cybertrolls and hackers
  • Launch a public diplomacy program for Russian children; make it a part of educational exchanges. If the Russians want to send neo-Line X “scientists,” they may do so at the pain of expulsion but, more importantly, only if Russian children can be exposed to the American way of life — of course in Middle America as opposed to Manhattan, Los Angles, or San Francisco.
  • If the US really wants peace, it should give a nuclear deterrent to Poland or station a missile defense force there.

If we are willing to learn from history, we shall see that Russia is quite predictable in its moves. Putin simply applies a traditional combination of military power, active measures, propaganda, political warfare, and diplomacy to achieve the reintegration of the empire. However, the West has an enormous technological and resource advantage. Unfortunately, it lacks unity, focus, and will. In particular, the United States has been incapable of providing leadership as far as resurgent Russia is concerned. The solution is simple: to reverse the course and realize America’s potential to make the world a safer place by countering the Kremlin’s aggression.

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
Wiesbaden, 13 January 2015

Photo above by the US Army.

Paweł Styrna lectures on communist infiltration of Polish-Americans

On Sunday, January 4, 2015, Paweł Styrna – Kościuszko Chair research assistant and IWP international affairs student – delivered a presentation at the annual conference of the Polish American Historical Association (PAHA) in New York City.

The lecture was entitled “Paralyzing the Polonia From Within: Communist Secret Police Infiltration of the Polish-American Community” and constituted a brief outline of a much more detailed, research-based scholarly article, which will be published in a forthcoming anthology.

Having explored the historical roots of communist secret police operational tactics, Mr. Styrna discussed the various manners utilized by Warsaw to divide, recruit, and co-opt the Polish-Americans and analyzed the extent of the penetration. He pointed out that the communist secret police treated the Polonia either as an enemy or as a potential asset and continued his exploration into the post-communist era. He concluded by pointing out that scholars should not underestimate the impact of secret police “disintegration” work on the American Polonia’s gradual loss of political influence during the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Dr. Chodakiewicz delivers Intermarium Lecture on Belarus, Ukraine, and Hungary

On Tuesday, December 2, Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz — Professor of History at IWP and the current holder of the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies — delivered a lecture on the “Intermarium in song, thought, and action: Belarus, Ukraine, and Hungary.”

The event was part of the Kościuszko Chair’s ongoing Intermarium Lecture Series, which commenced in 2011. During the presentation, Dr. Chodakiewicz addressed the accusations that are often levied against the government of Viktor Orban in Hungary. He also spoke about the nostalgia for the Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth and support for greater cooperation among the nations of the Intermarium in Belarus and Ukraine.

A video of his remarks can be found below.