The overriding goal of Polish foreign policy is to ensure the safety and prosperity of the Polish people. In pursuit of that end, Poland has always considered the security of its territory to be of paramount importance. In recent decades, after ending the Cold War, Polish policy makers should also consider two another regions to contain strategic interests important enough to fight and die for: a) Central and b) Eastern Europe. These areas are important because they contain either concentrations of power and critical natural resources, and who controls them has profound effects on the European balance of power.
The Republic of Poland has three distinct strategic interests in the Eastern Europe. Because this region transfers a large percentage of global energy supplies, the most important interest is maintaining access to the critical oil and natural gas located in Russia and post-soviet republics. This objective does not require Poland to control the region itself; it merely needs to ensure that no other country, including Russia, is in position to keep Eastern Europe oil from reaching the Central Europe market. To do this, Poland will have to seek to prevent Russia and any local power from establishing domination in the Eastern Europe to deter outside powers from establishing control of region.
A second strategic interest is discouraging Eastern Europe states from acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) – especially Ukraine and Belarus. The risk here is not the remote possibility of deliberate nuclear attack, nuclear blackmail, or deliberate “nuclear handoff” to terrorist, because such threats are not credible in light of Poland’s membership NATO and America’s own nuclear deterrent. Rather, Poland opposes the spread of WMD in the region because it would make it more difficult to project power into the region and thus might complicate Polish efforts to keep Eastern Europe oil flowing. Furthermore, WMD proliferation also increases the danger of accidental nuclear use. Given the potential for instability in some countries in the area, it also raises the risk that nuclear weapons or other WMD might fall into the wrong hands in the event of a coup or revolt, or be stolen by terrorist from poorly guarded facilities. So, the above arguments, inhibiting the spread of WMD in the region is an important Polish objective.
Third, Poland has an obvious interest in reducing terrorism. This goal requires dismantling existing terrorist networks that threaten Poland and preventing new terror groups from emerging. Both objectives are furthered by cooperating extensively and effectively with countries in the region, mostly in terms of intelligence sharing and other law enforcement activities. It is also imperative that Poland takes all feasible steps to prevent groups like ISIS, al Qaeda and its branches from gaining access to any form of WMD. Terrorist armed with WMD would be more difficult to deter than states with WMD, and they are likely to use them against Poland or its allies. Encouraging political reform and greater democratic participation can assist this goal well. Of course, this requires good relations with key regional powers. Although Poland should be wary of humanitarian interventions, rapid transformation and certainly should not try to spread democracy at the point of a gun.
I believe that Poland should support Ukraine’s existence, because Ukraine’s security is ultimately of critical strategic importance to our country. In the event that Ukraine was conquered, which is extremely unlikely given its considerable military power and its national backlash, Poland’s territorial integrity, its military power, its economic prosperity and its core political values would be jeopardized. By contrast, if oil exports from Russia were significantly reduced, the effects on Poland’s well-being would be profound. Thus, Poland does not support Ukraine’s existence, because the Polish recognize the long history of Ukrainian suffering and believe that it is desirable for the Ukrainian people to have own state, but rather because it makes Poland more secure. There is a strong moral case for supporting Ukraine’s existence, and I believe Poland should remain committed to coming to Ukraine’s aid. But the Polish should do this not only because they think it is morally appropriate, but in the first place, because it is vital to their own national security.
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Polish version: Jakie interesy ma Polska?