EVENT UPDATE: Many Poles live in a near-perpetual state of paranoia. Still, as Andy Grove, the founder of Intel, once memorably said, “You have to be paranoid to survive”.
Poland has just one national priority – preserving its identity and independence. Its people have history etched into their DNA, the memories of many invaders who brought their armies across the North European Plain, the holocaust, the occupation by Nazi Germany, the brutality of Stalin, and the long years of dominance by the former Soviet Union.
Modern Poland – and indeed it is modern – now looks to its future within the European Union and NATO. But it is also these two institutions that are responsible for Poland’s current fears about its long-term security. Can they be trusted? What happens if Russia’s president Vladimir Putin flexes his muscles even more, and seeks to regain the sway Moscow once held over Warsaw?
Are the Poles right to feel insecure?
Colin Chapman, president of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, Sydney, has just returned from a ten-day visit to Poland as a guest of the Polish government.
He met with government officials, defence specialists and think tanks all in a state of angst about the country’s long-term future. Poland has done well in recent years, but its sense of history still makes it feel insecure.
Colin will describe why the Poles are still cross at the cancellation by President Barack Obama of the anti-ballistic missile system that was to be built on their soil, and are pressing for a NATO replacement, and why they want to see American troops in their country. He will explain Warsaw’s efforts to help the European Union survive, and how Russia and France are fostering environmentalist efforts to obstruct the development of Polish shale gas.
Recommended background reading prior to the meeting: Blood Lands – Europe between Hitler and Stalin, by Timothy Snyder and Poland’s Strategy by George Friedman.
Date: Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 at 6pm – 7.30pm
Venue: Glover Cottages