Expansionism in Poland’s strategic culture: historical retrospective and variationsAbstract
This article deals with the problem of assessing and interpreting expansionist elements in Poland’s international political behaviour. The problem is approached using the concept of the strategic culture of states, which covers beliefs, perceptions, and the language states use to describe their own and other countries’ actions. The study examines what expansionist types of strategic culture have developed in Poland, how relevant they are in the current political landscape, and describes their differences and similarities. To this end, the intellectual origins of foreign policy ideas prevalent in Poland (Rzeczpospolita) are traced, and the challenges of the external environment are correlated with the way they have been perceived in the course of Poland’s historical development. Two historically contingent expansionist types of strategic culture were identified. Firstly, as a medium-sized state that has faced military defeats, the Polish state has hardly embraced ideas bearing on the ‘besieged fortress’ concept. Secondly, the very culture of limited power politics has assumed some unique characteristics in the country: greater readiness to take risks and fascination with power actions. This state of affairs is largely a result of the contours of the regional project having been drawn for the neighbouring states mostly based on the negative type of consolidation (against the Muslims and later the Bolsheviks) and therefore never reaching a sufficient level of detail.