Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
Our overriding concern is to make Poland, and the Intermarium, safe. Our focus, thus, should be primarily the survival of the state and its regional allies of the Three Seas area. The means to survive are derived chiefly from economy. Strong economy can translate not only into prosperity of individuals and the society at large, but also into military capabilities to secure the viability of their freedom and sovereignty of their state.
The crucial role of Poland in this process cannot be overstated. If Warsaw is successful, her neighbors will emulate her ways. Thus, the Polish elites must make a conscious choice of the economic means and ways to secure liberty and independence. There are three main options as far as running the economy: via the state; via the individual; and a combination of both.
The advantage of a state run economy is that it can mobilize all resources and plan for their allocation. The disadvantage is that such economic mobilization curtails the freedom of the individual and discourages grass roots productive activity. To muster the necessary resources, the state must tax and regulate. This, in turn, entails the growth of omnipotent state bureaucracy which not only allocates the resources for economy, but also butters up itself endlessly. And it commands. A command economy is modeled upon war economy; thus, socialism is predicated not only on class struggle but also on war planning. Everything must be ordered from the above, including the plan. Further, as per law of unintended consequences, state planning rarely succeeds for it fails to account for a myriad variables and options emerging from any economic activity. Indeed, state run economy tends to be “the road to serfdom,” as Friedrich von Hayek remarked.
On the other hand, free economy empowers the individual and sparks the enthusiasm necessary to emerge from the doldrums of socialism. Low taxes and few regulations unleash the energy indispensable for multiplying wealth. Small and medium size enterprises are main engines of economic growth. The disadvantage is that, pace Adam Smith, individual vices, such as greed and selfishness, fail to translate into collective benefits if “the invisible hand” operates outside of the traditionalist, conservative, and Christian social framework. Such an un-Christian capitalism tends to turn rapacious and ruthless, and devours everything without any constrains.
Therefore, most of the time in practice, we witness a combination of state power and individual energy as far as the economy. Optimally, it should be more of the latter and less of the former. Otherwise crony capitalism emerges.
The Intermarium dilemmas
As far as the Intermarium, including Poland, the local elites alas tend to stress the state, rather than the individual. This stems from the legacy of half a century of Soviet occupation and its attendant communism. Etatisme became second nature for many. But it also reflects the current state of corruption wrought about by the nefarious legacy of socialism. After 1989, the control of the state allowed the post-Communists and their collaborators to indulge in an orgy of embezzlement of state property and to emerge as the kleptocratic oligarch class. It thwarted and retarded the emergence of a free market elite. It foster economic pathologies, rather than free economies. Without the state, the kleptocrats would not have enjoyed government contracts, tax exemptions, and legal impunity.
Thus, ubiquitous etatism went hand in glove with their vicious domination of the economy and the society. To counter it, following the free elections of 2015, most anti-Communist elites assumed the control of the state to eradicate kleptocratic pathologies and to create economic opportunities that would serve Poland, and not its oligarchs. The state would become a vehicle not only of honesty and transparency but also of economic growth. That is at least their theory. What options do they seek?
The Far Eastern Temptations
At least for now, it seems that the ascending Polish elites have rejected America’s historical free market experience. Instead, it appears that Poland experiments with a corporatist idea. This particular option has not yet taken its final shape but one discerns the echoes of the pre-war Sanacja solutions. Further, there may be a few ominous analogies with the New Deal, which retarded America’s rebound from the Great Depression. One can also sense friendly curiosity about the Far Eastern solutions, including Japan’s keiratsu and zaibatsu as well as Korea’s chaebol: a nexus between the state and the financial/industrial sector.
The enthusiasts of such an approach point out that because of the corporatist alliance between the mighty state and large corporations Japan and Korea became the powerhouses of world economy. What one fails to stress, however, is that the cultural, social, and political context of those nations differs vastly from their counterparts in the Intermarium, including Poland. Japanese and Korean customary single-mindedness and discipline would be very hard to translate into Central and Eastern European mentality without massive coercion. Further, post-World War II Japanese and Korean recovery occurred primarily because of a massive infusion of American capital into their economies. Thus, Far Eastern solutions could produce African outcomes in the Intermarium: Angola and Sudan, instead of Japan and Korea. Obviously, under various cultural conditions, crony capitalism can be a success or disaster. Usually, it is the latter.
Ultimately, the native elites of the Intermarium must decide what form their statism should take. Theoretically there are two ways. They can go it alone, creating an autarchy and, thus, a mini-satrapy in each state. Or they can pull their resources together and operate within an alliance system. Even autarchic North Korea functions within a system. Pyongyang is a rabid lap dog of China and it relies on Russia, Iran, Cuba, and other similar states for a variety of services. If the Hermit Kingdom can suffer a measure of international interdependency, then it is obvious why Poland has chosen to anchor itself within a system of multiple, sometimes overlying, partnerships: NATO, EU, Vyshehrad Four, and the Intermarium.
The Intermarium Integration
One of the most crucial conditions of the economic success of the Intermarium project is the eradication of trade barriers and other impediments to free trade and exchange at first regionally. There must be infrastructural development along the South-North axis as well as common energy, trade, and military policy. Troop rotations are a must, not only within the Intermarium, but also within the EU. Thus, Spanish soldiers, for example, should face the Russian threat in Lithuania. And, vice versa, the Latvian troops must be exposed to the woes of broken borders in Italy with the resulting Third World invasion.
The economic facets of the integration should be coupled with a long term strategy for integration at the cultural level. There should be a pan-Intermarium media system. Young elites must be trained, in English preferably, which ought to become the lingua franca of the region. Common history should be stressed, in particular in defense of Western Civilization against Islam and Muscovy. Germany’s nefarious aggressions should be balanced with its legal and cultural contributions to the region. High school exchange programs should be a priority; regional tourism ought to be fostered, and local border traffic encouraged.
Energy and military
Arguably, two of the most important challenges of Poland and the Intermarium are energy and military issues. As far as energy, the Polish elites must focus on, first, nuclear energy. They should consider thorium reactors, as the safest to operate, as well as the miniaturization of nuclear reactors to provide decentralized services locally, rather than nationally via centralization. Second, the gasification of coal should be a priority. Third, work should commence on developing technologies to tap Poland’s shale gas formations. Fourth, Warsaw must build energy infrastructure, in particular along the South-North Axis. It should create and expand a maritime energy hub to accept American gas and oil on a permanent basis. Poland ought to partner with Croatia, perhaps even Bulgaria, which should construct and maintain a similar hub. Those hubs would supply American energy not only to the Intermarium but also to western Europe. This is of crucial geopolitical importance. It would free Europe of energy dependency on Russia and the Middle East. Berlin would have no excuse to be in bed with Moscow.
As far as the military, Poland must seek nuclear weapons: either prompt the US to hand them over, or develop her own in the process of nuclear energy acquisition. Next, Poland should strive for incorporation into America’s missile shield system. Further, Warsaw ought to bet on decentralized territorial defense forces. Equipped with inexpensive individual weapons systems, they can significantly slow down, and even thwart, both an asymmetric and a conventional threat from within and without. Last but not least, Poland must invest in cyber and electronic defense also because this fosters a technologically savvy elite that can operate interchangeably between military and civilian projects, including in the field of high technologies.
All this should be integrated as tools of statecraft into Poland’s grand strategy that would lead to the preservation of sovereign nation states in the region and the empowerment of the Intermarium. The grand strategy should also ultimately aim at limiting the role of the state in favor of empowering individual, private enterprise.
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
Miami, FL, February 9th, 2018
This article is based upon the author’s remarks during a panel discussion on “Transatlantic Defense and Energy Cooperation as the Pillar of CEE Security” at the Polish-Amerrcan Leadership Summit: Poland Investment Zone, 9-11 February 2018, Miami, FL. The panel was moderated by Jacek Bartosiak, and the participants included, aside from Dr. Chodakiewicz, Ambassador Ovidiu Dranga of Romania and Ambassador Andrii Deshchytsia of Ukraine.