Poland recently marked the 26th anniversary of the Government of Prime Minister Jan Olszewski — Poland’s first administration chosen by members of Parliament democratically elected at the ballot box. Jan Olszewski, Poland’s elder statesman, facilitated that nation’s pivot from Russian influence, onto political independence, and into NATO. Although his government lasted briefly, it transformed the future of Poland and of Central Europe.
Bringing Poland into NATO was not only a diplomatic and public policy test for the Government of Prime Minister Olszewski, but perhaps mostly for the former Soviet Union and the Round Table elite, which without demur viewed domestic changes as part of a global perestroika strategy.
In short, the creators of the perestroika sought to eliminate the U.S. from Europe. Moreover, they were to establish a geo-strategic space from the Gibraltar to Vladivostok in which Western technology and wealth would be utilized, while a military edge in Eurasia would provide Russia with worldwide domination. This vision has not been fundamentally changed to this day, although presently a greater role is seen in energy dependence and cheap labor, originating respectively from Russia and China.
At the source of this concept in the West is German geopolitical thought, with its assayed dream of a Russian-German alliance. This is coupled with the ideological concepts of the Second International and that of theoretician Antonio Gramsci.
The effect is to be the evolution of the European Union towards an assayed democratic dictatorship as well as a yearning for the analogous modernization of Russia. Above all, the projected outcome would be the creation of a global superpower that will challenge the United States.
In turn, even for many Poles, the situation was and remains more complicated than it might seem. For most, joining NATO was the fostering of the Poland-U.S. alliance. For others, NATO was a cacoethes: Poland's integration with the emerging European Union and striving for an immutable relation with Germany.
This ambiguity has lasted to some extent to this day. Some are still essaying to transform NATO into a European alliance, at most supported by the U.S. externally in the event of a nuclear threat, but on a regular basis serving as the Western forum for political consultations. At the same time, the EU intends to build its own military structures, undeniably unable to effectively challenge Russian aggression. The geopolitical sense of these intentions is obvious.
On the other hand, one can consider the security of Poland and the architecture of European security, which is becoming increasingly crystallized. At the center is an alliance of Central Europe — known as Intermarium — with America. This idea, contrived in the Second Polish Republic, has been the axis of the geopolitical concept of the Polish independence movement since the 1970s.
It was presented in the 1979 correspondence of Jan Olszewski, Antoni Macierewicz, and Piotr Naimski with U.S. President Jimmy Carter. It was then summoned back in 1983, subsequently becoming a guidepost for the Government of Jan Olszewski. A crucial moment in the most recent past was the Three Seas Initiative, spearheaded by Poland with the comprehensive support of President Donald Trump.
Today, this concept is a determinant of Polish independence and the country’s public policy, including eliminating mafia structures upthrust by remnants of the communist apparatus, forming a strong military capable of resisting an external attack, guaranteeing demographic growth, and building a competitive economy based on modern industry, agriculture, and energy security.
This program, first initiated by the Government of Prime Minister Jan Olszewski, was then developed by the Presidency of Lech Kaczyński as well as the Government of Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński. This lay the groundwork for the not long past Polish administration, led by Prime Minister Beata Szydło.
The decided geopolitical turn to build the Intermarium over the course of the past two years, together with an epoch-making alliance with the United States, gave the Polish government a great impetus enabling the implementation of fundamental internal changes that brought unprecedented economic growth, great social dynamism, and a sense of strength and determinedness.
The stationing of NATO and U.S. troops in Poland, the “500+” program, the reinstitution of a lower retirement age, the formation of the Territorial Defense Force, maintaining a defense budget that meets and exceeds 2 percent of GDP and the cultivation of the history of the “indomitable soldiers,” magnified by the reconstruction of the shipbuilding industry and the energy sectors, have become emblematic of this transformation.
However, all these achievements would not have been attained without the conviction of the nation that Poland has the military might and alliances capable of eliminating Russian pressure on internal politics. Fear of Russian intervention, which for decades was an important component ensuring victories for pro-Russian elements in the affairs of state, has been limited. As time lapses, it is possible to completely eliminate this deleterious phenomenon.
Today, the question arises as to the extent to which this agenda will be continued, or if Poland will give way to the pressure of unelected EU bureaucrats, and in turn to German dictates. As always, key is the question of security and relations with the United States. The left-of-center media has attacked talks between Poland and the United States regarding increasing the presence of the U.S. Army in Poland and building permanent bases for at least one armored division.
This project, prepared by the Ministry of National Defense since May of last year, with full knowledge and consent of Poland’s state leadership, assumes the construction of the entire infrastructure, not only for U.S. military forces, but also for the families of service members. This encompasses housing, educational facilities, medical centers, infrastructure projects, and much more.
These preparations — preliminary but necessary talks with American policymakers and civil society — were apoplectically attacked by communist and liberal politicians, notably Janusz Zemke and Tomasz Siemoniak. Those who remember the history of Poland in the last three decades will not be surprised by the alliance of the former secretary for the Polish United Workers' Party and the former secretary of eurocrat Donald Franciszek Tusk.
Admittedly, since the late 1990s, liberal and communist forces have accepted the presence of Poland in NATO, but on the condition that it will be a figurative — mostly symbolic — political presence designed for public perceptions. A felicitous example was the effort to dislodge the purposed missile defense system in Poland.
The recommitment of the Polish government to support international security, both by its enhanced presence in NATO and its bolstered special alliance with the United States, aroused choler among some, vouchsafing the pro-Russian views of certain groups in Poland and worldwide. For leftist pundits, the Poland-U.S. alliance, supported by the presence of actual U.S. forces, rather than purported endeavors, is seen paradoxically as a blow to the European Union and NATO. One pundit alleged that the aforementioned negotiations would lead to the debasement of both the EU and NATO, and hence to instability in Europe, but doubtlessly this person’s sole transgression is ignorance.
The real reason for the attack on Polish security policy — permanently binding Central Europe with the U.S. — is the fear of liberal and pro-Russian forces. This policy overturns efforts on a continental German-Russian alliance, which would remove the U.S. from Europe and at the same time eliminate Poland as a bulwark for security as an independent political power. It breaks the attempt to permanently subjugate Poland to German policy and transform it into a part of Mitteleuropa. Finally, it defends Poland against the negative economic and social effects of restoring power to the post-communist oligarchy.
This is, therefore, a key conversation that is taking place in Poland and in other countries of the former communist bloc. Each moment of Prime Minister Szydło’s administration brought increased support for the governing party. It was a phenomenon unknown in the history of present-day Europe: the governing party was gaining support while the post-communist forces were pushing themselves to the margins.
Of course there are many threats, but there is also major potential emancipated in the last two years which will not be overshadowed by any propaganda or social engineering. There is also the inevitable logic of the reviving United States military under the leadership of President Donald Trump. His genuine admiration for Poland is equal to the bipartisan understanding of how crucial the role of Poland is in the world of geopolitics.
Edmund Janniger is the Director of the International Security Forum, an institution under the patronage of the Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Poland. His work at the Ministry of National Defense encompasses academic affairs and global engagement. Mr. Janniger holds the record as the youngest sub-cabinet official in Poland’s history. In the Parliamentary Office, Mr. Janniger has been the Deputy Chief of Staff to Minister Antoni Macierewicz and, during the 2015 elections, was the Deputy Campaign Manager for Law and Justice in the 10th District. Mr. Janniger has a proven track record directing complex political and policy-related matters. He holds an adjunct appointment at Marconi University, and was elected by the full Rutgers University Senate to three terms on its Executive Committee. Mr. Janniger splits his time between the Warsaw and New York metropolitan areas, has one young dog, and is an avid hiker. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
Antoni Macierewicz is the legendary anti-communist leader who founded the Workers Defense Committee (KOR), the forerunner of Solidarity, and later directed Solidarity’s Center for Social Research. Minister Macierewicz is the Deputy Leader of Law and Justice, Poland’s governing party, and has served as the Minister of National Defense, Minister of Internal Affairs, Head of the Military Counterintelligence Service, and Chairman of the Verification Commission.
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