IWP Professor of Defense Studies Brigadier General Walter Jajko (USAF Ret.) has analyzed Poland’s strategic position within the framework of NATO, as well as the threats to Poland’s independence and the potential geopolitical options open to her in the future.
Gen. Jajko’s comments appeared in the January 2012 issue (Vol. XXXII, No. 1) of The Sarmatian Review, a scholarly journal. The article was based on a speech delivered by the General at the Polish American Congress’s Annual Thanksgiving Dinner in November 2011.
The article’s title – “Poland: Strategically Active or Passive?” – encapsulates Gen. Jajko’s main thesis. Post-communist Poland, particularly after the tragic plane crash of April 2010, has displayed many worrying signs of strategic passivity, he argues. In other words, the country has behaved more like a passive object, rather than an active subject in the international arena. This coincides with a loss of interest on the part of the Obama administration in the affairs of Central and Eastern Europe, and a progressive decomposition of the NATO alliance. Meanwhile, a resurgent post-Soviet Russia constitutes a growing threat to Poland and other former Soviet Bloc captive nations in Central and Eastern Europe.
Russia’s continuing occupation of Kaliningrad presents a case in point of the post-Soviet neoimperial threat. The Baltic territory, once a fiefdom of the kings of Poland, was acquired by the Soviets from Germany through the right of conquest after the Second World War. Renamed after the Soviet President Kalinin, one of the signatories of the infamous order to execute thousands of Polish POWs at Katyn, the district was settled with Soviet colonists and converted into a closed military zone. To intimidate the adjacent countries of the “near abroad” – particularly Poland and the Baltics, but also, by extension, Western Europe – Putinist Russia have transferred troops, missiles, and (most likely) even nuclear weapons into the enclave. Hence, according to Gen. Jajko, Kaliningrad “is a direct and ever-present threat, like a loaded gun, pointed at the heart of Europe, especially Poland.” Yet, both Poland and her NATO allies have remained surprisingly silent considering this danger.
The General advises that “Poland needs to pursue its own security actively, independently in some ways if necessary.” In the international arena, Poland should assume the leadership of a bloc of “new European” states between Germany and Russia. On the domestic front, the General argues, the country must overcome a wave of moral relativism which undermines its national security by distorting a realistic perception of foreign threats.
To read the full version of Gen. Jajko’s article, please click here: Poland: Strategically Active or Passive?
Disclaimer: The views of Gen. Walter Jajko do not reflect the views of the US Government or the Department of Defense.